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A step in the right direction? Napster and Bertelsmann, parent of one of the five major music companies that is suing Napster, have announced an alliance to develop a new secure file-sharing music service. Bertelsmann agreed to withdraw its lawsuit once Napster successfully introduces the new membership-based service.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all works out – will Napster’s 20 million users stick around if they have to pay a membership fee? Or will they flock to the likes of gnutella or other file-swapping services?

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