eBay is to offer a trial digital music download service, allowing third-parties to piggy-back their own music offerings through its web site and payment system.
The pilot programme will last six months, and begin when eBay has chosen a number of music-provider partners. It's presumably hoping they will come and offer their services. Any company that does must be able to show it can offer suitable copyright protection, is authorised to sell the content it proposes to offer and can meet whatever service-level standard eBay sets.
There's an opportunity here for smaller labels to leverage eBay's customer base, many of whom do look to the site for cheap, second-hand CD and DVD bargains. In this case, however, buyers will not be allowed to re-sell songs on eBay.
Despite the strength of eBay's online brand, it seems unlikely to pose much of a threat to Apple, Sony, Virgin or even Napster. Consumers are far more likely to turn to a service that they associate with music rather than auctions. ®
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