"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is reportedly the music industry's new modus operandi, and it's music pirates it was never quite able to beat. Though it certainly tried, with thousands of lawsuits and settlements out of court with file-sharers. "After years of futile efforts to stop digital pirates from copying its music, the music business has started to copy the pirates," the New York Times reports. "Free" music services offering millions of songs online and on phones are "set to proliferate" this year, it adds, bringing stiff competition to iTunes, whose music-sales growth ended last year. Customers' costs will be buried in mobile or Internet-service contracts. These music services are also different from file-sharing services like Limewire or eDonkey in that they're legal and provide revenue to the music companies. Two examples of the "free services": 1) Nokia's Comes With Music, which "lets users download as many songs as they want, from a catalog of more than five million tracks, when they buy certain Nokia phones" and 2) and the Isle of Man government's plan to require broadband Internet users to "pay a nominal monthly license fee" and thereby "legally download music from any source, even peer-to-peer services that are outlawed currently." At a music industry conference in Cannes, a Research in Motion executive predicted that "the music industry will be unrecognizable in a couple of years time," Reuters reports. Here's some background on the music industry in the Financial Times. Meanwhile, LimeWire – which has 70 million unique users and gets more than 5 billion queries a month – just added social-networking features to its service, CNET reports.
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