German media giant Bertelsmann has said that from this summer it will charge a membership fee to users of Napster, the music swap service website.
Bertelsmann, which formed an alliance with Napster in October last year, said it expects to convert Napster into a subscription-based venture by June or July.
Napster enables computer users to send copies of music files to each other over the internet. The site had been threatened with closure by some of the world's biggest music publishing groups following disputes over copyright fees.
However, under the alliance, both companies have agreed to maintain a partial version of Napster's current file-swapping service while adding a fee-based membership component that would allow some compensation for artists and record labels.
Earlier this month European independent record company, edel, signed up with Napster and Bertelsmann to allow its music to be traded through Napster's fee-based service.
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