P2P Company Launches Legal Music Service

iMesh, once sued by the RIAA for copyright violations, completes its makeover as a legal music download service, and other illegal P2P operators may be forced to follow suit.

Once the focus of recording industry copyright litigation, peer-to-peer network provider iMesh reported that it has completed its transition into a legal, fee-based music download service.

The company, which is based in Israel, announced a public beta version of its iMesh 6.0 software on Tuesday, promising that the application offers many of the benefits of traditional P2P networks, such as fast downloads and the ability to trade files with other users. All the while offering copyright protection to recording companies and performing artists.

The new iMesh service is also free of advertising, spyware and adware, and claims access to over 15 million songs through its offering and across the Gnutella file-sharing network.

In July 2004, iMesh said that it would move to a legally-approved file download model as part of a $4.1 million settlement it reached with the Recording Industry Association of America in a copyright infringement suit.

As in its cases against a number of file-sharing networks, on which people once freely traded music files at no cost and with no observation of copyrights, the RIAA had contended that iMesh was providing a platform that people were using to break the law.

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Despite the ruling, the RIAA had given permission to iMesh to continue to operate its P2P service while it worked on its legal music offering.

Using the new music service, iMesh users can download, burn and share music files within a tightly-controlled P2P community.

The company will offer both a subscription service for $6.95 per month for unlimited downloads, and the ability to buy songs individually for a currently undisclosed sum.

A basic version of the service and the iMesh media player software will be offered for free, and will also offer access to non-copyrighted materials such as music from independent artists.

The company is offering free 60 day trials for all of the services.

Other features of the service include a library site for tracking downloads and sharing music play lists with other people, a search tool for looking for individual tracks, and Discover, an area of the iMesh site that points to heavily downloaded tunes, information on artists and suggested play lists.

Next Page: The goal is to create a social network that shares music.