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EMI Strikes Deal With Wippit

October 24, 2003|Jon Healey | Times Staff Writer

Four years after the major record labels united against Napster's online song swapping, EMI Music has broken ranks by giving a file-sharing company access to its entire catalog of downloadable music.

The company's recent deal with Wippit Ltd., a 2-year-old British music service, comes with a catch, though: Wippit users can't share EMI files electronically -- at least not yet. Instead, they have to download them from a central computer operated by Wippit, just as they would with any other authorized online music service.

Wippit's approach to online music is a significant departure from that taken by Apple Computer Inc. and most other competitors. It allows users to download as many songs as they want for a flat monthly fee, then keep the songs after their subscriptions end.

Wippit Chief Executive Paul Myers said his company's approach has been more lucrative for its current suppliers -- about 200 independent record labels -- than other authorized online outlets have been.

Services such as Apple's iTunes Music Store pay labels about 70 cents per song downloaded; Wippit has been paying 80 cents to $1.14.

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