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A new Spanish music service is offering commercial music downloads for as little as $3.99 for an eight hour session. Monthly subscriptions begin at $24.99.

Unlike Apple's Music Store, which offers DRM-encumbered files, Puretunes also offers obscure back catalog artists such as The Beatles, and an agreement with publishers ensures that the artists get paid.

Puretunes boasts that the service isn't riddled with spyware or pop-up ads, either. (Nor does it dial Steve Jobs for permission each time you want to play music you've bought from the service, as MacObserver's has discovered)

The catch?

Puretunes hasn't reached an agreement with the record labels, claiming that under Spanish copyright law, an agreement with music publishers the AIE (Asociacion de Artistas, Interpretes y Ejecutantes (Association of Artists, Performers and Players) will suffice.

That's surely enough to have the RIAA fuming, and you may assume that the service will be short-lived. But the defense has proved successful for Spanish download pioneer Weblisten, which continues to flourish and will celebrate its fifth anniversary on the web next week.

And such "pirates" have their value. Joe Menn, the author of an enthralling history of Napster [review, interview to follow] reminds us of the significance of the labels' investment in Roxio, and Roxio's determination to relaunch the service last week.

"It's an admission that the pirate Napster brand, means far more to people than the labels' own brands," he notes. ®

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