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File Sharing Emerging in 'Walled' Environments

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A number of new music file-sharing projects are in the offing here and overseas, enabling pop music fans to swap songs for a fee.

This month, Sony BMG will begin offering a legal, peer-to-peer music file sharing service with UK-based Internet service provider (ISP) Playlouder. Customers can share files with others who subscribe to the network, using deep packets search technology to make sure that the files are only used within the "walled garden" of Playlouder.

The fee will be close to US$50 per month for the service, the company said, creating a legal venue for the distribution of music by pop artists like Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Outkast, George Michael, and others.

The CEO of Playlouder, Paul Hitchman, said he is "confident" other music labels will sign similar arrangements soon with ISPs in America and Europe. Universal is expected to be one of the labels to announce a deal shortly.

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