New Spain-Based MP3 Service Raises Ire

A new for-pay digital music service being distributed through the Grokster peer-to-peer network in the U.S. is running afoul of the recording industry by selling unlimited access to major-label music

A new for-pay digital music service being distributed through the Grokster peer-to-peer network in the U.S. is running afoul of the recording industry by selling unlimited access to major-label music without authorization.

Puretunes, based in Madrid, allows consumers to download all the MP3 files they want, in subscription packages ranging from $3.99 for eight hours of access to $168 for a year. The company does not have licensing deals with the major labels; however, it is vowing to compensate rights holders. Puretunes claims that since it has deals with the Spanish Association of Authors and Editors and the country's Association of Artists, Performers, and Players, it is legal under Spain's copyright law. Representatives for the two bodies were unavailable for comment.

The international recording industry disputes the legality of the service. "Distributing music on the Internet without authorization from the copyright holders is illegal in Spain, as it is everywhere else," says International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) general counsel Allen Dixon. "The legal situation in Spain is very clear, and any site offering music downloads needs to have the authorization of record producers. If Puretunes is going ahead and putting music on the Internet without that authorization, then they will have to face the consequences." The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) declined comment.

Puretunes is targeting English-speaking countries at launch, with a marketing focus on the U.S., where Grokster has inked a deal to be its first distribution affiliate. Puretunes itself is not a P2P application; it is a central-server-based system similar in function to legal download services such as MusicNet or Pressplay.

Distribution was to begin yesterday (May 20); however, Grokster president Wayne Rosso says the effort had to be tabled shortly after launch due to overwhelming consumer response that flooded Puretunes' servers.