Napster Joins MusicNet Service

After reports of a possible deal, Napster made it official Tuesday joining Seattle-based MusicNet, the recording industry’s new music download platform, as an official affiliate.

By signing the agreement, the Redwood City-based Internet song-swapping service becomes the third distribution partner to team with MusicNet. The first two affiliates are
AOL (NYSE: AOL) and RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK). The service is expected to be available to consumers by late summer 2001.

“Our relationship with MusicNet underscores our commitment to supporting the members of the Napster community – the world’s most enthusiastic music fans,” says Napster interim CEO Hank Barry.

As part of the deal Members of the new Napster service who subscribe to the MusicNet offering through Napster will be able to share MusicNet content with other MusicNet subscribers who are also Napster members. The new service is expected to cost consumers between $10 and $15 a month.

MusicNet’s three big record label backers – BMG Entertainment, EMI Recorded Music and Warner Music Group – say they will permit Napster to delivered their content provided that “Napster is operating in a legal, non-infringing manner and has successfully deployed a technology that accurately tracks the identity of files on the service.”

So far Napster’s signing with MusicNet and the record labels has not changed the fact that Napster is being sued by the labels for copyright infringement. The two sides are expected to be back in U.S. District Court Wednesday, where Judge Marilyn Hall Patel is expected to hear a report on Napster’s compliance with her order to prevent copyrighted content from being traded.

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