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EMI blesses try before you buy

Then your song explodes

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EMI is to license its digital music catalog to former P2P felon Mashboxx - a sign that the major labels are blessing a "try before you buy" approach to digital music. But it also leaves the door open to other approaches.

Mashboxx will use the Snocap system - which identifies digital songs and tracks their exchanges against a central database, developed by a team that includes former Napster author Shawn Fanning.

As outlined by EMI and Mashboxx on Friday, users will be entitled to five plays of a full length song before DRM locks down the file completely, with the system inviting you to purchase the track. Rival legitimate services offer only 30 second previews.

Mashboxx signed a similar deal with Sony-BMG and began a closed beta more than a year ago. The beta identified unlicensed material on the P2P networks, and offered the user a "legal", and presumably glitch-free version. The joint release with EMI confirmed that this "conversion" option was still a feature of the Mashboxx software.

There's still no sign of the service being offered to the general public, however.

Last week Kazaa reached an out of court settlement with the four major labels, agreeing to pay $100m in compensation.®

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