Yesterday, Allofmp3 got a ton of press for holding a press conference defending its legality and business model. So why is it changing all of that? That's not entirely clear. A few people have submitted a NY Times piece that highlights Allofmp3's plans to "give away" lots of music supported by ads. Plenty of people are picking up on this story, while focusing in on the part of the article that claims Visa has yanked its support of the site as the reason why Allofmp3 is suddenly shifted to a free, ad-supported model. However, that's not at all clear from the article. The NY Times article is pretty poorly written. It mentions the Visa thing, but keeps it entirely separate from the free music section -- suggesting that these may actually be unrelated events (in fact, it almost sounds like Visa decided to pull its service to the site after the announcement of the free music). Secondly, the ad supported offering doesn't really sound all that impressive. Part of the reason people like Allofmp3 is because it gives them totally unencumbered files in whatever format works best for the buyer. That is, they can do whatever they want with those files, from playing them on iPods to making copies of them for multiple computers or whatever. However, the new offering, not unlike some of the plans the record labels are supporting, requires people to listen to music in specific players where the ads will be shown, and won't let you copy the files to more than one computer. Obviously, that's about the only way to get the advertising to work, but it also decreases the value of the music since people can't do much with it. So, it may be free, but it brings back the DRM and the limitations. There are plenty of us who would prefer to pay for unencumbered music, than to get copy protected music for free.
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