My.MP3.com returns for free or for a fee

My.MP3.com lets users listen to their CD collection from any computer with an Internet connection. It does this by streaming the songs from the company's database of 750,000 audio files -- as long as users first prove they own the CDs by registering them with the service.

In its new incarnation, My.MP3.com will still offer a limited, free version of the service, but there is now a subscription-based version too. The free service is funded by on-screen advertising and allows users to register 25 CDs, while subscribers paying $US49.95 (around $90) per year can register up to 500 CDs. The subscription service carries less advertising than the free account and offers more functions, such as the ability to buy CDs online, MP3.com said in a statement.

Consumers who had previously opened a My.MP3.com account will be able to access music with their old password, the company said.

MP3.com withdrew the original service in April, after the five major record labels filed lawsuits against it in January. Universal Music Group, Warner Brothers Music Group, EMI Group, BMG Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment sued MP3.com for copyright infringement.

While Warner Brothers, EMI, BMG and Sony settled their suits against MP3.com for an estimated $US20 million each, Universal continued its legal action, and on September 6 a judge found MP3.com guilty of "willfully infringing" Universal's copyrights by including an estimated 4700 of Universal's CDs in its song database without permission.

Two days later, however, My.MP3 announced that based on its settlements with the other four major music labels, it would be re-launching the My.MP3.com service. The settlements allow MP3.com to include CDs from those labels' back catalogues in the My.MP3.com service.

The Universal case drew to a close on November 14, when MP3.com was ordered to pay $US53.4 million to Universal to settle charges of copyright infringement, but the company is not done with its legal troubles yet: On November 16, music company Unity Entertainment and others filed a class action complaint against MP3.com for copyright infringement.

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Laura Rohde

PC World

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