Legal P2P music site Qtrax signs EMI Music

Last January all four of the major recording companies denied the start-up's assertion that it had cut deals with them. But now Qtrax is starting to gather momentum.

Qtrax, the free music site with the questionable history of signing labels, has cut a licensing agreement with EMI Music, the company announced Tuesday.

"EMI's music will be available free to registered Qtrax users for unlimited streaming or downloading to a PC," the companies said in a statement. "(Users) can also load downloaded tracks on up to three portable devices and play them while their membership remains active."

Here's the rub: users must sync their portable device every two months so the number of plays can be counted so that artists are accurately compensated. New York-based Qtrax offers links to online retailers for users who decide on buying the songs.

Qtrax is an ad-supported music and legal P2P site that is best known for an embarrassing episode last January when all four of the major recording companies denied Qtrax's assertion that it had cut deals with them. Since then, the company has been chugging along.

Last month, Qtrax signed a licensing agreement with Universal Music Group, the largest of the four biggest music labels.

Once Qtrax signs the two remaining majors, Warner Music Group and Sony BMG, and has the licenses it needs, executives have said it will offer more than 25 million songs. The company has already signed agreements with the publishing units of the four top labels.

What's right about the service is that it's free. What's wrong is that users can't burn music to disc. However, signing more major labels is a step in the right direction for the company.

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