Free, Legal P2P Service Qtrax Hits Snag After Major Labels Deny Contracts

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Reports that new download service Qtrax has struck deals with the four major record labels to offer their catalogs for free, legal P2P downloading may have been greatly exaggerated.

Qtrax's program was supposed to launch last night at midnight, but as of 12:30 PM EST, it's still not available. This morning, reports indicated that three of the four major labels (Universal, EMI, Warner Bros.) denied signing a deal with Qtrax. However, Qtrax music site is still offering up albums by EMI all-stars Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

Qtrax utilizes a program where the labels are paid in ad revenues on a per-download basis, allowing Windows users to download DRM-encoded WMA files, making them playable on some portable music devices — but supposedly not iPods (While there are conflicting reports about the adaptability of the files, an Apple version of Qtrax is expected to launch in March.)

This isn't the first time Qtrax has stalled in its seven-year history: After its initial launch in 2002, the service was forced to shut down after a few months to avoid legal trouble. If a deal can be reached between Qtrax and the four labels, the service would carry a library of twenty-five million songs, trumping the catalogs of the iTunes and Amazon music stores.

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