Well, kind of. From the AP via Slashdot, this article about the emergence of authorized P2P sites. PeerImpact is one that’s already in beta – it’s sort of the bastard child of the iTunes store and say, Limewire. You’re still buying songs and the money still goes to the store, and you’re still limited in how you use the songs you buy (cursed DRM!), but now you’re getting the files from other users in the network. It’s file sharing without the “sharing” part. File buying maybe, which doesn’t really sound as sexy. PeerImpact has the added wrinkle that you actually earn Chuck E. Cheese Bucks (or whatever) every time someone gets a song from you, and you can use these Chuck E. Cheese Bucks to buy music for yourself. Now everybody can be in marketing.
We’ll see if people go for it. I personally would guess that there’s not enough new stuff here to significantly divert people from other established online music stores. Who cares where the file comes from? You’re still just buying WMA files that won’t play on your iPod (whoops). But it does show that the RIAA understands that P2P is here to stay, and that it recognizes that there’s a financial benefit to allowing users to share content with each other. Turns out these RIAA people are actually quite reasonable when they’re not suing 13-year-olds and dog-food-eating grandmas with broken hips.