Snocap Pushes Legal P2P Downloading

Snocap, the newest venture headed by original Napster founder Shawn Fanning, announced on Monday it would open its service to independent artists and labels to allow them to register their songs to receive payment when they are traded over peer-to-peer networks.

Fanning's service allows P2P networks to curb illicit downloads by blocking unauthorized versions of songs and replacing them with a version that carries digital rights management and must be paid for in order to play.

The service has already penned deals with three major record labels including Universal, EMI and Sony. Talks are continuing with a fourth major label, Warner Music Group. Snocap has also finalized deals with several smaller independent labels as well.

Only one file-sharing network, Mashboxx, uses Snocap technology. However, the company hopes to sign bigger networks such as Kazaa and LimeWire to further legitimize its technology as a way to bring the ever-increasing problem of illicit file-sharing under control.

It's not clear if such Snocap-enabled limitations would be accepted by P2P users themselves. But if the technology becomes mainstream, it could mean and end to the seemingly endless stream of court battles and lawsuits between the file-sharing and record industry, while still keeping the concept of P2P networks intact.

"[Snocap] is key to creating a world of authorized peer-to-peer networks that will attract music fans en masse - enabling consumers to share and discover new artists in much the same fashion as they did with old P2P - but done in a way that respects the rights holder," Fanning said in a statement.

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