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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Napster ready for test launch
Napster and Microsoft
Napster has signed a deal with Microsoft
Pioneering song-swapping internet service Napster is to make a legal return to business, two years after it was shut down.

The service will run a test launch on 9 October and should be fully operational by November, ahead of schedule.

The original website boasted 60 million users but was forced to close when record companies began legal action for copyright infringements.

Users will now have to pay for music from the renamed Napster 2.0 site.

Digital media company Roxio bought Napster last year for $5m (2.9m), with plans to launch a legal service but cashing in on the brand name.

Napster's founder Shawn Fanning was brought back by Roxio to work as a consultant.

The company will unveil full details of the services it will offer at an industry press launch, where a surprise major performing artist is due to appear, signalling the legitimacy of the company.

It has tied up a deal with Microsoft for Napster to be included on its next media package.


But while Napster was one of the first downloads services on the web it now faces competition from many other sites, including industry-backed services such as Apple's iTunes and unlicenced services like the popular Kazaa, which stands accused of encouraging its users to download pirated music.

Napster 2.0 is set to offer 500,000 songs which fans will be able to buy through a monthly subscription or through one-off purchases.

It will also offer customised radio stations and the ability to copy songs onto CDs and other devices.

The original Napster had one of the biggest brand identities on the internet, but its fame brought it to the attention of the major record companies.

Lawsuits began flying as Napster was accused of infringing the copyrights of artists.

The lawsuits were finally halted when a court ordered the website to be shut down, but almost immediately plans were afoot to relaunch it as a legitimate service.

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