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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 12:18 GMT
Free music offered to net users
Close-up of CD, BBC
Customers of Tiscali are getting six months of free digital music included with their standard net service.

Tiscali's dial-up and broadband customers will get access to a large library of digital music files as well as special content such as concerts, interviews and radio programs.

Customers will be given credits that they can trade in to listen to tracks or burn the music they like to a CD.

The European net firm has signed a deal with music distribution firm OD2 and software giant Microsoft to set up the service.

Credit trail

The free music downloads are available from today to every existing Tiscali customer and gives them access to 150,000 tracks by 8,500 artists

Tiscali currently has about 7 million active subscribers in 16 countries.

The library of music, including artists signed up to Warner, BMG, EMI and Universal, is being supplied by OD2, the online music firm backed by ex-Genesis front man Peter Gabriel.

Dial-up users will get 50 credits per month over the next six months that they can trade in to listen to 300 tracks streamed to their computer or to download 30 music files to their home computer.

Broadband users will get credits to listen to 400 tracks over the same period and will be able to cash in 100 credits at a time to burn music to a CD.

Keen music fans will be able to buy more credits or upgrade to a pay service.

"To show there's a compelling alternative to piracy, we need to publicise the growing digital music catalogue available through legitimate channels," said Charles Grimsdale, chief executive of OD2.

The popularity of peer-to-peer file swapping services such as Kazaa is posing problems for music firms who are keen to stop people sharing pirated pop.

By offering music that is free from viruses and higher quality than is usually available on peer-to-peer services net providers and music firms hope to slowly wean people away from pirated pop.

The Tiscali music club is also open to non-Tiscali customers and charges a small fee to listen to or download music.

The music is encoded and protected by Microsoft's Windows Media format.

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