One of the oldest Web sites offering inexpensive music downloads has closed, after years of legal battles with record labels.
Weblisten.com, which has operated in Spain since 1997, offered subscribers the ability to download an unlimited number of songs for about $40 a month. It also offered shorter, cheaper windows of time that lasted a week or a weekend.
The company had long contended it had permission to offer major-label songs, without any kind of copy protection, after negotiating with Spanish licensing agencies. Record labels around the world disagreed and spent years in court suing the company.
This week, the legal battle ended. The site now contains a terse note in four languages saying it has been shut down, and the trade group representing international record companies says the company finally admitted to criminal copyright infringement in court.
"Despite the long delay in the Spanish court system, this result makes it clear that you cannot offer music online without permission from all of the people that created the music," Allen Dixon, executive director of the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry, said in a statement.
The record industry has had mixed success against companies that have pointed to local licensing authorities as legal shields for unconventional business models.
Another Spanish site similar to Weblisten, called Puretunes, shut its doors not long after being sued by the record labels. However, a Russian site called AllofMP3.com, which offers downloads for just pennies per song, remains open despite pressure from the music industry. SOURCE