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Online Music Service Gets Labels' Backing

July 19, 2001|JON HEALEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Oakland-based Uplister.com has won several large independent labels' support for a new music subscription service, one that would let users create and download customized groups of songs.

The Uplister offering, which is expected to be announced today, is the latest sign of the momentum building in the music industry for fee-based online services. Users of the Uplister service would pay $10 a month to download an unlimited number of songs, although the songs couldn't be moved from their computers.

Meanwhile, the erstwhile king of online music services, Napster Inc., won a temporary reprieve Wednesday from a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The panel set aside a federal judge's order that barred Napster from resuming its song-swapping service until it had done more to guard against piracy.

The Redwood City, Calif., company did not restore its service immediately, however, and officials offered no clues as to when users might be able to trade songs again.

Unlike Napster, which lets users search for and retrieve single songs, Uplister enables users to create and share lists of songs. To date, however, users have not been able to listen to the music on others' lists.

The new subscription service, which is expected to launch this year, will enable users to download and listen to the playlists they and other users create. Initially, the only songs available will be from the independent labels that have struck licensing deals with Uplister.

The first of those labels are TVT Records, Matador Records, Overcore and WaxTrax, although company officials said they expected to have more soon. The company still is seeking the licenses it needs for music-publishing rights to some songs.

The unlimited downloads are more like rentals than purchases--Uplister subscribers will be able to play them only as long as they remain subscribers. Consumers could make permanent copies of the songs they download, though, for an extra fee of 99 cents a song.

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