Kazaa to return as subscription service

The name was once associated with piracy but Altnet plans to launch a legal subscription music service that features music from the top labels.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval

Kazaa is coming back from the dead.

One of the most recognizable brands in the history of illegal downloading is due to officially resurface, perhaps as early as next week, sources close to the company told CNET News. Only this time the name Kazaa will be part of a legal music service.

Altnet and parent company Brilliant Digital Entertainment attached the Kazaa brand to a subscription service that will offer songs and ringtones from all four of the major recording companies. For the past few months, a beta version has been available.

The company tried recently to ratchet up expectations with a series of vague, and what some considered misguided, press releases.

The site will open with over 1 million tracks. According to the blog TorrentFreak, the new Kazaa will offer unlimited downloads for $20 a month.

Kazaa was developed by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis and rose to prominence following the first wave of peer-to-peer networks. The courts effectively shut the company down when it ordered it to prevent users from committing copyright violations.

Kazaa is joining the growing number of former rogue file-sharing applications and services whose names are now being used for legal operations.

First came Napster, and just this week a Swedish software company revealed that it planned to relaunch BitTorrent tracking site the Pirate Bay as a pay service.

What hasn't been proven yet is whether any of the once outlaw brands can be used to make money legally.