Mashboxx, a legal P2P (peer-to-peer) service currently in development, will have the entirity of record-label EMI's catalogue of digital recordings at its disposal.

The Windows Media-only Mashboxx P2P software or 'client', will allow consumers to preview and purchase copyrighted music content from EMI artists from within existing P2P networks.

The deal covers the company's US catalogue, although EMI plans to make additional repertoire from its international catalogue available when Mashboxx rolls out its service in additional markets in the future.

Mashboxx will use fitering technology to identify tracks that labels such as EMI have authorised for trade through P2P networks. Users can choose to sample tracks for free, or purchase them as downloads. In order to make its music available through legitimate P2P services including Mashboxx, EMI is having its digital catalogue fingerprinted by SNOCAP.

For the free, sampler option, users will be able to play full-length tracks up to five times. These sampler tracks will expire after they have been played five times. After five plays, users will be able to play only a 30-second clip of the track, unless they decide to purchase it. This try-before-you-buy feature was exclusively designed by Mashboxx for usage within P2P platforms.

According to the most recent NPD Digital Music Study, nearly 75 percent of P2P users found sampling to be important before deciding whether to purchase music.

"Legal peer-to-peer services that offer consumers a great user experience and compensate creators appropriately are good for music fans, good for artists, and good for the digital music market as a whole," said David Munns, chairman and CEO of EMI Music North America and vice chairman of EMI Music worldwide.