A new internet music service launched by Apple Computer offers a consumer-friendly method of downloading songs for a modest 99 cents each. If the service catches on among users, it could supply the music industry with an effective model for squelching the popularity of illegal song-swapping online—while giving schools and colleges one less legal headache to worry about.

The venture—announced just days after the music industry saw mixed results from two high-profile lawsuits involving online piracy—draws from all five major recording labels in offering more than 200,000 songs, including some from big-name artists who previously...

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