Napster Subscription Service This Summer

German-based record company Bertelsman AG announced today that it could launch its Napster-based subscription download service as early as July. Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Bertelsman CEO Thomas Midelhoff touted "I’n convinced we can introduce in June or July of this year a subscription model, with a real working digital rights management system."

While no one with the record company or with Napster could say how much the service might cost, it is rumored to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $5, not too shabby if you take into account how many files you could download in a month. But that is contigent on Napster not losing its user-base due to the fee.

Many have questioned whether or not the service, or any service like it, could work based on the number of free protocols that exist and are still being developed. Many fans of Napster simply scoff at the idea of paying for downloads, as they could simply switch to Gnutella clients such as BearShare, or other Napster-like programs like GlobalSCAPE's CuteMX.

In a Reuters interview with Bertelsman e-commerce group chief executive Andreas Schmidt, he claimed that many other record labels could potentially be joining the service in the next coming weeks. If Napster could convince EMI, Universal, Warner, and Sony to join, it would mean a 75% claim of the music market for download.

Napster executives claim they were shocked by Bertelsman's announcement, telling Reuters "We haven’t decided on a time schedule at all...we're hopeful."

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