Universal Music Group has licensed songs from its stable of artists including U2 and Eminem to a company that has developed technology designed to prevent the unauthorized distribution of audio tracks over online file-sharing networks, a source familiar with the venture said.
The record company signed the deal with San Francisco-based Snocap Inc with an eye toward eventually having its music sold over one or more file-sharing networks, the source said on condition of anonymity.
So far, the major record companies have opposed licensing their content to file-sharing software firms, refusing to offer their artists' music for sale while unauthorized, CD-quality versions of the songs are being traded for free over the same networks.
The filtering technology developed by Snocap, which was started by Shawn Fanning, creator of the original Napster file-swapping network, has generated interest as a way to make a recording company-friendly file-sharing network a reality. Both Universal and Snocap declined to comment on the licensing deal on Tuesday.
Sony BMG Entertainment has also been in talks to sell its music on a new file-sharing service dubbed "Mashboxxx." That service is expected to block computer users from trading copyright songs without permission, but would allow them to download promotional or restricted versions of songs at no charge. It is expected to debut early next year.