Now Available on the Free and Legal Menu

Did you hear? Major Labels Allow P2P Music Sharing on Qtrax:

At the Midem conference in Cannes, France, Qtrax announced deals with all the major music labels and publishers to offer the first free and legal ad-supported P2P service to include major label music.
……
Klepfisz pegs the service’s catalog at more than 25 million songs, which would dwarf those of iTunes and other online music stores. The songs will be wrapped in Microsoft’s Windows Media subscription DRM. …… The application is based on the Songbird engine, so sharing and downloading occurs within a Firefox browser — no separate application required.

In case you missed it in the quote, here’s the QTrax site.

Of course, DRM sticks itself out like a big red flag, and you know what that mean! Its time to head over to BoingBoing to see what Cory Doctorow has to say about all this (which I’m sure will be very interesting). So, free and legal PtoP music? I’m sorta excited.

UDATE: whoops!

Qtrax touted in a press release Sunday morning that it was the first Internet file-swapping service to be “fully embraced by the music industry,” and boasted it would carry up to 30 million tracks from “all the major labels.”

New York-based Warner Music undermined that claim, declaring in a statement that it “has not authorized the use of our content on Qtrax’s recently announced service.”

Universal Music Group and EMI Group PLC later confirmed they did not have licensing deals in place with Qtrax, noting discussions were still ongoing. A call to Sony BMG Music Entertainment was not immediately returned.

Looks like it was just a PR stunt to show just how many page hits it could generate (presumably as evidence to the labels).

[Qtrax] released a statement Monday touting all the attention the stunt has garnered, and claiming that the labels continue to support it in some sort of general, unmentionable way.

The statement mentions 61,000 unique visitors per hour. So I guess it worked? Of course, once you’ve attracted all those people with what amounts to a big, fat lie, you might want to have some songs ready:

A quick test Monday revealed that the songs listed in Qtrax’s slick, Songbird-based interface cannot be downloaded, putting the service in more or less the same holding pattern it’s been in for four and a half years: waiting for label approval.

Isn’t there a truth in advertising law that covers this type of thing? Maybe a press release doesn’t count. Does making the announcement in France make a difference? I would guess it would only matter where their headquarters are located (i.e. to whom to they pay their taxes). Oh well. I have to admit that if they do manage to strike a deal with all (or most) of the labels, I’d still give the service a shot. I’m also much more likely to try any competitors that show-up.