'Legal' MP3 music channel launched

A free Internet provider in Germany, callisto germany.net GmbH (germany.net) has announced its new Music Channel, where its users can listen to MP3 music files and download them onto their computers.

The German ISP and its sales partner, mp3-onlineshop.com AG, are making legality a major selling point of the new site: all the titles for download will be "completely legal", the company said in a statement.

MP3 is a format for compressing digital audio files at near-CD quality. Since software to create and play MP3 files is freely available online, many sites have made titles available to which they have not obtained the copyright.

To avoid copyright issues, germany.net is working with Munich-based ArtVoice Group, which has its own recording label and will act as a licensing agent for the MP3 songs, the company said. A licensing agent makes sure that songs are released with the backing of the artists or recording labels.

Germany.net will also work with a number of amateur artists, who will sign guarantees that the songs are being released online with their permission, said Stefan Kühler, a press spokesman for germany.net.

"We also want to strongly promote the amateur music market in Germany," Kühler said.

Germany.net users will be able to buy music in MP3 file format and in a format used by LiquidAudio, a provider of music copyright management and download technology. The site will also provide complete musical scores to popular hits, music and MP3-related news and hit charts. The online content will come from partner mp3-onlineshop.com, Kühler said.

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