P2P music swapping networks have risen sharply to popularity, firstly in their illegal manifestations and now in some legal ones. No surprise then that many important industry players want in on the act. Sony BMG has partnered with British digital music outfit Playlouder MSP to make its music catalog available online
. Users of the service will be pleased to know that they will be able to freely share licensed music, since a portion of the subscription fee goes to a digital pool which is divided amongst Sony and other artists. Now this sounds much more like a legal file sharing system that can really work. This one actually seems like good news, and a step in the right direction for P2P.
In essence, it's a privatized attempt to create a "digital pool" of revenue to compensate artists - a time-tested idea applied to radio, public broadcasting and other technologies. Privately, many rights holders accept the idea as inevitable, although they're loathe to voice support for a mandatory compulsory license in public. Or at least, not until they've demonstrated that technical and legal countermeasures to control music sharing have been tried and failed.