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LaLa Adds Free Song Streams & Unprotected Paid Downloads

Scrappy startup lala.com which up until now has focused on CD swapping, sales and net radio, todayLala will launch free song streaming and unprotected downloads with 200,000 tracks from WMG

Instead of charging like Rhapsody, Napster or Yahoo, lala offers the service free (paying about 1 cent per play to the labels) in hopes that listeners will buy the track for 99 cents.  Talks with the other major labels are in progress.

Lala_2 If that news weren't enough to send shivers down a few digital exec spines, the paid downloads from lala come without copy protection. The lala download system involves a browser plug in that takes tracks straight from the service to the purchaser's iPod or other portable player.  Because tracks are never stored on the PC (the source of most illegal P2P and file sharing) lala hopes that other labels will follow WMG's lead and drop DRM.

Lala_3 Details of exactly how the software works, if it prevents backloading onto the PC and how it handles transfer to a new device all remain a bit sketchy, but at least one reviewer said the system worked smoothly in tests last week.  With these major additions, lala could become a full service music destination.

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