Kazaa launches premium service

The developers of peer-to-peer file sharing program Kazaa launched Friday a fee-carrying version of the software, a further step in their efforts to shake off Kazaa's reputation as a piracy haven and build a viable business around the software.

A US$29.95 fee buys users a license to Kazaa Plus, which is advertising-free and offers more advanced search and download options. Kazaa owner Sharman Networks Ltd. will continue distributing a free version of Kazaa, which is partially supported by pop-up and banner ads.

Kazaa Plus allows users to download files from up to 40 sources at once, doing away with the free version's eight-source restriction. It also includes enhanced virus protection and customer support via e-mail.

Kazaa remains one of the P-to-P services in the sights of governmental regulators and entertainment industry executives because of the file pirating its network enables. A software update earlier this year enabled Sharman Networks to sell through Kazaa "premium" music, software and video files from professional content creators, a move toward legal legitimacy.

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