Yahoo!, Kazaa add online music options

Launch division sees European bow

The RIAA may be cracking down on pirates, but the legal options for online music continue to grow as Web portal Yahoo! expands its Launch music brand to Europe and peer-to-peer network Kazaa has debuted a new version of its software with additional options for licensed content.

Launch, which provides streaming music and videos as well as news, shopping and other services, is now available as part of Yahoo! Europe. Users in the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and Spain will have access to Launch services and local music information.

Meanwhile, Sharman Networks has released an upgrade of its controversial Kazaa Media Desktop, one of the most popular programs for downloading pirated music, with new features that highlight the licensed content available from its sister company, Altnet. Version 2.5 includes several new channels that allow users to sample and buy licensed music, films, games and software. Hip-hop and reggae channels are already available, with extreme sports, wireless software and others expected to debut soon.

Also new is a previously announced “peer points” program that rewards users with prizes for allowing their computers to be used for distributing licensed content (Daily Variety, June 2).