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Napster returns from the dead

Napster returns from the dead — Napster 2.0, due at Christmas, will offer a variety of legal (but not free) ways to get MP3s

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Now that everyone seems to be getting into the MP3-downloading business, the name that started it all is back on the scene. Get ready for Napster 2.0, says Roxio, the company that owns the rights to the Napster name. Roxio is expected to announce on Monday the details of the service, which it plans to make available by Christmas.

Unlike the original Napster, there won’t be any free file-swapping in version 2.0. Instead, it will offer users a number of legal ways to access music online, the Associated Press reports. There will be song-by-song purchases, as on Apple’s iTunes Music Store and Buy.com’s new BuyMusic; a monthly subscription option, à la Roxio’s Pressplay; and Internet radio-style streaming audio.

It will also boast the largest music library of the current pay services, some 500,000 songs from the five major labels as well as from independent labels that are not represented at other download sites. It’s not clear, however, how restrictive the new Napster will be with regard to song transfers from your PC to another PC, CD burners, or MP3 players. Also, the service will be available only on Windows, unlike the popular and relatively restriction-free Mac-based iTunes Music Store.