Aug 30, 2006

Free and legal music downloads from SpiralFrog

In what could change the music industry since the launch of Apple's iTunes service, a startup company called SpiralFrog will offer music downloads for free. Supported by the vast catalogue of Universal Music which backs the service, this model hopes to make its revenue through advertisements. The users of the service will have to watch advertisements and the downloaded music will be copy protected to prevent being passed onto others. The advertisements will be a 90-second block which has to be watched before the content will be made available.

This move could be even more critical when the music and film industry is fighting a losing battle against piracy and illegal sharing through peer-to-peer networks. Almost every copy protection technology that has been employed recently has either landed the publisher in hot soup (Sony's DRM woes) or has been broken (FairUse4WM breaks Microsoft DRM).

Although not the first service of its kind to offer free content supported by advertising (Napster is already doing it and Kazaa is expected to follow suit shortly), SpiralFrog will offer actual music which can be stored on the user's computer, whereas Napster provides a streaming service, which can be heard only once. The likely option for Universal's cut would be a share of the advertising revenue generated through the service.Initially, the service will be available in the US and Canada, and may branch out to other regions depending on the success of the venture.

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