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A "Social Networking" Music Service

Founder unveils early plans for Mercora, a peer-to-peer music service featuring licensed content from major and independent labels.

Srivats Sampath, the former CEO and founder of McAfee.com, has shared the first details of his new venture, Mercora, which early next year will launch a peer-to-peer music service featuring licensed content from major and independent labels.

Mercora will take the model developed by the file-sharing networks and apply the latest rights management to create a marketplace in which members will buy and sell music within a community of music fans. Sampath introduced the company and the plans for the service at this week's Digital Hollywood conference in Los Angeles, calling Mercora a "social networking" music service.

During a panel discussion on the issues surrounding online music piracy, Sampath indicated that the crackdown on file-sharing networks could be alienating the industry's valued teen demographic. Many file-swappers are teens and college students who have been eager to take advantage of the ability to obtain free music files through services such as Kazaa, Grokster, LimeWire, and, once upon a time, Napster. "I like to think of 15-year-olds as buyers-in-training," Sampath said.

Pricing and other details of the Mercora service haven't been released.

In related news, Roxio Inc., which acquired Napster and Pressplay earlier this year, said it would offer a customized version of its pending Napster service for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 PCs. The new Napster service, expected by Christmas, will let music listeners transfer individual tracks or complete CDs purchased on the site to portable devices or burn the files to CDs. The Pressplay technology will serve as the infrastructure supporting Napster.

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