After the lawsuits and legal arguments, the eye-popping judgements and multi-million US dollar settlements, my.MP3.com, the once-popular, once-free MP3 streaming service is back online. Back online, that is, with new terms and costs and some users aren't happy about it.
The service, offered by MP3.com, allows users to hear their CD collections from any computer with internet access and the ability to play MP3s.
All the user has to do is insert a CD into the computer and then contact MP3.com servers through a process called ‘beaming.’ Once this is done, the CD is available for listening from the user's account.
Prior to its relaunch, the My.MP3.com service led to a series of copyright infringement lawsuits filed by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).
MP3.com settled the suits and announced early last week that the service, which had been suspended pending resolution of the lawsuits, would resume. However, the terms of the service had been changed.
First, and perhaps most significant, though My.MP3.com is still free, users employing free accounts are now limited to only 25 CDs. Those who want more can have up to 500 CDs, though they must pay US$49.95 (£35.22) per year for the service.
Secondly, according to a report in the New York Times last week, users will be prompted to reinsert CDs at certain intervals so as to prove that they own the discs and have not pirated them.
MP3.com will neither confirm nor deny this report. A spokesperson for the company said "to the best of my knowledge, the... service will be used as it always has been."
These changes have led to many dissatisfied internet citizens making their displeasure known on such websites as the open-source news site Slashdot.org and even MP3.com's own message boards.
One Slashdot user, posting under the name "lizrd", questioned what value the service offers under its new terms.
"The thing that really gets me is that you'll have to insert your CDs at random intervals. This means that My.MP3.com provides no benefit at all... There's just no way that I'm going to pay good money to listen to my own CDs on those terms," lizrd wrote. "Furthermore they won't even let me put any CD that I want on there. Only the record companies that they have deals with."