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Yahoo! is doubling the price of its online music-subscription service for portable MP3 players, ending a short-lived promotion that sought to lure consumers from Apple’s market-leading iTunes store.

Effective Tuesday, Yahoo! will charge about $120 annually for access via download to more than 1 million songs that can be transferred to portable players. The Internet powerhouse has been charging just less than $60 annually — a price most industry observers predicted wouldn’t last when Yahoo! entered the market in early May.

Subscribing to the service on a monthly basis will cost $11.99, up from $6.99 under the initial pricing plan. That’s closer to but still below services from Napster and RealNetworks, which each charge just less than $15 per month.

With its service, Yahoo! joined Napster and RealNetworks in trying to sell the concept of renting an unlimited amount of tunes for a set fee instead of buying copies individually.

Consumer Reports

Identity-theft fears alter online habits

As identity theft has grown, so has fear of being victimized through high-tech means.

Nearly a third of Internet users are cutting back on time spent surfing the Internet, and a quarter say they have stopped buying online altogether, according to a study from Consumer Reports WebWatch.

Some 80 percent of Internet users say they’re at least somewhat concerned someone could steal their identity from personal information on the Internet. Fifty-three percent of Internet users say they’ve stopped giving out personal information on the Web.

Among those who shop online, 54 percent say they’re now more likely to read a site’s privacy policy or user agreement before buying and 29 percent have cut back on how often they buy online.

Mobile phones

China’s cellphone market still growing

The world’s largest cellphone market keeps growing.

China had 377 million mobile-phone subscribers at the end of September, or 29 for every 100 people, the government reported Wednesday.

That’s up 7.7 percent from June, when the government reported 350 million users, and up 23.6 percent from 305 million in June 2004.

China already was the biggest cellphone market when in August 2003 it reported 250 million cellphone subscribers.

Helped by that growth, the number of short text messages sent in September by mobile devices rose 40.2 percent over a year earlier to 219 billion, the Information Industry Ministry said in a report carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Though outnumbered by mobile-phone users, the number of fixed-line telephones also rose, to 345 million, by the end of September, the report said.

Search engine adds copyright warning

The Web portal Baidu.com, China’s most popular search engine, has added a disclaimer to its popular search engine for MP3 music sites following lawsuits accusing the company of helping visitors illegally obtain copyright music.

The new disclaimer says the company “fights piracy” and promises to remove links to sites that infringe on copyrights. However, the site still connects users to outside sites where they can download music.

The company became famous abroad after its U.S. stock market debut in August, when its share price more than quadrupled on its first day of trading.

A Beijing court ordered Baidu.com last month to pay $8,400 and block links to pirated copies of songs copyrighted by recording company Shanghai Push. Baidu.com is appealing.

Industry giants Universal, EMI, Warner, Sony BMG and their local subsidiaries have also filed lawsuits.

Compiled from The Associated Press