A new online music service lets people share music stored on their PCs with other computer users or those with Web-enabled mobile phones.
Using the free Avvenu Music Player launching this week, users can select tracks they wish to share and send links to friends via e-mail. Recipients click on the link to listen to the songs for up to five days on standard Web browsers.
Avvenu supports audio files in MP3, AAC and WMA formats, but only tracks that are free of copy-protection restrictions can be streamed with the service, said Richard French, chief executive of Palo Alto-based Avvenu Inc.
Music files are sent to Avvenu and streamed from its servers when the sharer's computer is off. Otherwise, audio files are streamed directly from users' computers or phones.
Avvenu officials insist their service is legal because recipients don't retain copies of songs — the streams only work when there's an Internet connection, and only for five days. The Recording Industry Association of America had no comment.
Users sharing their collections must have Apple's iTunes music software on their Windows or Macintosh computer, although Avvenu has no direct relationship with Apple. Mobile phones must run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile software.
To share songs, users also must download and install the Avvenu software — the beta version allows users to share up to 250 tracks for free through Avvenu's servers, though direct sharing imposes no limits.
Recipients do not need to have iTunes or the Avvenu software on their computers to play back tracks.
Avvenu plans to release a revised version of the service within three months. French said later versions should work with other music libraries besides iTunes. The company plans to ultimately offer a subscription service with a free basic offering.