Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 16:46 UK

Pirate sites return in legal form

Illegal peer-to-peer file sharing is still rife on the net

Peer-to-peer download sites Kazaa and The Pirate Bay are set to return with a new, legal subscription model.

Kazaa, shut down by a $150m (£91m) lawsuit in 2006, will be reincarnated as an unlimited download service with a fixed monthly subscription rate.

The Pirate Bay has outlined a "give and take" model which pays users for sharing their resources.

The Swedish software firm that owns The Pirate Bay said the service would be free for a majority of users.

Both services are following the example set by Napster, which was the subject of several lawsuits that eventually shut down and bankrupted the service.

It re-launched in 2008 as the largest online retailer that did not restrict use of its content with so-called digital rights management (DRM) software. DRM restricts what people can do with the songs they buy.

Now, the two heirs to the Napster-driven peer-to-peer downloading throne have entered into a legal trading arena to compete with two very different business models.

Pricing structures

Kazaa is expected to launch in the US this week as a monthly subscription service, costing $20 (£12) per month for unlimited downloads.

It will issue songs in the Windows Media format, with DRM that will restrict use of downloaded content to five computers or devices.

The Pirate Bay, once the largest illegal download site on the web, was acquired by Swedish software firm Global Gaming Factory X after the original owners were found guilty of abetting violation of copyright law.

Last week, it hired Wayne Rosso - a former president of P2P site Grokster and founder of P2P site Mashboxx - to help strike deals and refine the new business model.

The site's new incarnation is expected to launch in August, and the firm is developing plans to charge a monthly fee to use the service.

That fee would be reduced if users shared their downloaded content or allowed the service to utilise the storage space on their computers.

"For the great majority it will be free of charge, for a minority it will actually make them money, and for a small portion it will cost them," Hans Pandeya, chief executive of Global Gaming Factory X, told the AP news agency.

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