Free downloads hit with ads

Lawsuits against illegal downloader’s could be coming to an end, but not a pleasant end for the downloader. Changes are being made to MP3s in order to recoup financial losses from peer-to-peer networks.

To legitimise songs being exchanged for free online Intent MediaWorks figured a way to embed pop-ups in music and video files unobtrusively. So next time you download a song from a peer-to-peer file-sharing service like LimeWire you will be asked to look at an ad, either text or video, in return for a free and legal copy of the music.

The company claims that 60% of users are willing to endure the resulting pop-up ads. Avril Lavigne's publisher uses a service that lets fans download her songs for free in exchange for watching an ad.

"Consumers don't want to rip people off", says Les Ottolenghi, president and co-founder of Atlanta-based Intent. "They just want to get music as easily as possible."

Intent is seeding the peer-to-peer networks at a rapid clip. In February its digital media files were downloaded 1.7 million times.

This comes as research found that over one in three (34%) consumers do not trust entertainment companies to respect the rights of people who pay for entertainment through digital channels.