Wednesday, October 26, 2005


There's an all-new filesharing service in town: iMesh. Yes, of course, iMesh isn't exactly new, but with the company having lashed out $4.1million to settle a lawsuit lastyear, it's different. It's now got a widget in which will let users legally acquire songs. If they pay:

The service offers access to 17 million music files. About 15 million will be available for free because copyright holders have not asked iMesh to block them.

Users of iMesh can now legally access songs through the Gnutella network, where musicians and others post music for free sharing. In addition, songs can be bought from the four major music conglomerates.

We're not sure quite how the 15 million free tracks come to be free - isn't going "well, nobody asked us to block them" a little weak as a justification? And yet the RIAA - in the person of Mitch Bainwol - seems happy to endorse iMesh:

Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said iMesh is another example of the growing online marketplace that respects the rights of musicians, songwriters, record labels and others.

"It is a significant moment in the transformation of the peer-to-peer model," he said.

Presumably the owners of the fifteen million tracks that fall into the grey area wouldn't feel that having their CDs shoplifted was a crime, either. Since they don't print "Please ensure you pay for this record at the checkout desk" on the CD box. Or maybe the RIAA isn't quite as strict as it likes to pretend.

How much, you may be wondering, does it cost to download from Gnutella? Since the files aren't held on a central server, and there are no cost implications for labels to either store or distribute downloads these ways - indeed, since its the consumers who pay those costs on the label's behalf - you'd expect this way of buying music to be cheaper, wouldn't you?

Nope. 99c. No wonder the RIAA are happy to gloss over the dubious end of this business - their members will be coining it.

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