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Tiscali backs music swapping

ISP forms partnership with Kazaa to push broadband to its users

Italian-based ISP Tiscali today announced a partnership deal with music-swapping site Kazaa in a bid to promote its broadband services.

Under the deal, Kazaa, owned by Australian-based Sharman Networks, will promote Tiscali's broadband services via its website. In return, Tiscali will pay Kazaa a bounty for each subscriber who signs up from its site, though how much this will be is undisclosed.

"The killer application for broadband is peer-to-peer services. Downloading music via a dialup connection can take hours," said Mario Mariani, vice president for access and media business at Tiscali. "This is a simple distribution deal. We feel that most peer-to-peer users will switch to broadband soon anyway, so we are just encouraging them to opt for our services."

Tiscali is involved in a similar distribution venture with search engine AltaVista, but this is the first of its kind for Kazaa. The deal will provide it with an ally in the turbulent world of peer-to-peer sites.

But in the past Kazaa has been accused of encouraging music piracy and even causing the downfall of CD sales. In response Kazaa has protested that its service is completely different from that of defunct music-swapping site, Napster.

Unlike Napster, which stored music on its own servers for users to search, Kazaa simply uses software to look around the user network and identify the most powerful computers on it, turning them in temporary hubs that other users can tap into to search across the network for files to download.

Kazaa has also argued it cannot control how its customers use the service and cannot prevent them from duplicating copyright protected material. But US music and movie makers beg to differ and are currently calling upon the courts to shut such peer-to-peer services down.

"We do not think this is the case at all. This is an important step in creating legal demand," said Mariani. "Peer-to-peer services are vital to the success of broadband."

Tiscali currently has around 100,000 broadband subscribers across Europe, while Kazaa boasts a whopping 120 million downloads (or customers).

This partnership is part of the launch of Kazaa's latest software called the Kazaa Media Desktop.

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