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Israeli P2P network iMesh has agreed to block unauthorised song-swapping and cough up $4.1m to the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA).

The RIAA began legal action against iMesh in September 2003. The P2P network claims it has over 10m users around the world. The RIAA alleged many of them were engaged in ripping off its music industry members.

iMesh hasn't said why it agreed to settle out of court, but it's likely it found itself seeing defeat in the courts or financial ruin resulting from protracted legal conflict. Whatever, the company was spinning the settlement today as a "pioneering" move in the world of P2P.

iMesh will now seek to create a P2P environment in which users can share songs legally - and that means paying for them. "It allows us the opportunity to migrate to a business model that will continue to provide users with the P2P experience that they have come to expect from iMesh," company COO Ofer Shabtai said in a statement.

Hardly a new approach - UK digital music provider Wippit has been doing this for ages, using song identification technology to ensure that the songs its subscribers are sharing are ones it is licensed to allow them to share. But Wippit's sharing content comes largely from independent labels, and while this aspect of its business does offer some major label content, most of their tracks are only available through Wippit's other, iTunes-style download business. ®

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