Qtrax P2P music service set to launch amid mystery: iPod playback, music industry support questioned

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There’s some controversy regarding the music industry’s latest band aid, Qtrax, which is touted as the world’s first free and legal P2P service. The idea is you’ll put up with a limited number of ads on the Qtrax Web site and that you’ll tolerate the software “phoning home,” giving the company information like play counts. The music download service is set to launch at midnight tonight (which is weird because its Web site said the same thing last night around 10pm—maybe they’ll keep that “available at midnight” button on there forever) and supposedly has all sorts of record label support.

Supposedly.

The first article I read about the service, from the UK Times, said that Qtrax had the full support of EMI, Universal and Warner. Yet articles have popped up since then refuting that claim. Warner says it has nothing to do with Qtrax. Same thing with EMI and Universal. Makes you wonder just how viable Qtrax is after all.

Another oddity—iPod playback. Qtrax says that the files won’t initially be playable on the iPod because of the Windows-based DRM it uses on the files to track usage information (again, like play count). (The DRM doesn’t otherwise restrict your usage of the files.) The key word there is “initially,” since Qtrax says its files will soon be playable on the iPod. It says it found a way around FairPlay.

Unless that way around FairPlay is totally free, plane jane MP3s, then you can expect the next iTunes update to break Qtrax. It all sounds like smoke and mirrors to me.

Oh, and the Mac client won’t be available for another month. Really, is it so hard to code a Mac application?

Qtrax — Ad-Supported Music With iPod Compatibility? [Slashdot]

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