NAPSTER JOINS FORCES WITH ELVIS!

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BMG, the home of Elvis, Nirvana and Five, is the shock new partner for the file-swapping provider...

Napster have joined forces with the BERTELSMANN MUSIC GROUP (BMG), to work together on Internet file sharing technology.

According to a report on the Financial Times website, [url=]www.ft.com, the agreement means that BMG, who are one of the five large music companies sueing Napster for copyright infringement, will now withdraw their lawsuit – they originally claimed Napster were infringing on the copyright of their artists.

The plan is for the pair to introduce membership charges for Napster users, which could mean an end to free file sharing over the Internet. The service would use the revenue generated to pay the copyright holder, recording artist and publisher.

The Financial Times claims that BMG will ask the other record companies suing Napster under the Recording Industry Association of America banner, which includes EMI, Warner Music, Sony and Universal to also withdraw their suits against Napster, and encourage a similar agreement.

Napster developer Shawn Fanning said: “I am excited that

Bertelsmann appreciates and values the uniqueness of the community

Napster users have built. I look forward to Napster becoming a part

of even more people’s lives, helping the way people discover and

explore music.”

In a press release issued by BMG this afternoon, the media group claims to have “developed a new business model for a secure membership-based service that will provide Napster community members with high quality file sharing that preserves the Napster experience while at the same time providing payments to rights-holders, including recording artists, songwriters, recording companies and music publishers.”

Thomas Middelhoff, BMG‘s Chairman and Chief Executive

Officer, said: “Person-to-person file sharing has captured the imagination of millions of people worldwide with its ease of use, global selection of content, and community features. Napster has pointed the way for a new direction for music distribution, and we believe it will form the basis of important and exciting new business models for the future of the music industry. We invite other record and publishing companies, artists and other industry members to participate in the development of a secure and membership-based service.”

Hank Barry, Napster CEO added: “This strategic alliance with

Bertelsmann is the right next step for Napster. The Napster

community – which is the fastest-growing in the history of the

Internet – will benefit enormously from Bertelsmann‘s historic

commitment to innovation and its experience in offering a seamless

and convenient user experience.”

NME.COM‘s Brand Director, Steve Sutherland, who has closely followed the Napster debate, commented: “It’s sane and inevitable that they have found a way to move forward together. This is the only sensible conclusion that could be reached. The upside is that a bunch of artists rather than lawyers will start making some money, while music fans continue to get person-to-person service for, one hopes, a sensible reasonable fee.”

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