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Peer Impact Licenses EMI Catalogs

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (AP) — EMI Music became the fourth major recording company to agree to make its music available over a legal peer-to-peer service that hopes to lure customers away from illegal sharing programs.

Peer Impact, which Wurld Media Inc. plans to debut by the end of March, had announced license deals in November with the three other major companies: Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.

"Our agreement with EMI Music is essential to Peer Impact's viability, as we now have all the major record labels' entire catalogs available for download," Greg Kerber, chairman and chief executive of Wurld Media, said Wednesday.

Peer-to-peer services like Kazaa and LimeWire allow computer users to swap files among their hard drives. But since the rise of Napster, record companies have tried in court to shut down "P2Ps" that allow users to download copyrighted songs for free.

Peer Impact is among a new breed of legal P2Ps run in cooperation with media companies and designed to compete with centralized download services like Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes. Proponents say decentralized P2P networks ease strain on servers and require less bandwidth.

Like iTunes, songs on Peer Impact will cost 99 cents, although users can earn up to 10 percent credit on a song if they agree to share it with other network users, Kerber said.