P2P software company iMesh has signed digital music distributor MusicNet to supply it with songs as it attempts to transform its service into something the content industries will be happy with.
iMesh said it will offer MusicNet's catalogue, which also sits behind music stores run by Virgin, HMV, AOL and Yahoo!, as one-off downloads and through a monthly subscription service. Essentially, consumers will be allowed to 'share' their music libraries with other iMesh users, but downloading a protected song will "pop up" an opportunity to purchase the track.
Anyone on an all-you-can-eat subscription package will be able to download en masse, as before, though this time round the artists and labels get a cut.
iMesh said it will also connect users to the Gnutella P2P network, allowing them to download what it calls "unclaimed" works and promotional content. Presumably, the P2P client will have software to scan downloads to ensure what's being shared isn't represented in MusicNet's catalogue or is in some way marked as permissible to download.
MusicNet claims "the largest available music library in the industry today", but it still doesn't supply every song currently available on CD. "In addition to the licensed tracks from MusicNet... the P2P community has access to over 15 million tracks at any given time culled from the Gnutella and iMesh networks", iMesh boasts - they can't all be 'unclaimed' songs or promotional items, so there may still be scope for the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) to get stroppy with the P2Per.
Nor does MusicNet offer the same selection of songs to users in, say, the US and Europe. How iMesh plans to extend MusicNet's various locally licensed catalogues to its worldwide audience of downloaders remains to be seen. ®