BTopenworld has launched BTopenworld Classical, a subscription-based classical-music service.

BTopenworld is a mass-market Internet-business delivering services to approximately 1.3 million customers in the UK. Its classical music service offers a searchable, downloadable catalogue of around 6,000 classical tracks. Subscription costs £7.99 per month.

BTopenworld will not face copyright problems for its service. Under UK copyright laws, music is free from restrictions 70 years after the artist's death - a drop in the ocean compared to the 175 years that Beethoven has been gone.

"Once 70 years has passed then it's free for anyone to use for whatever they want," said Florian Coempel, spokesman at the British Music Rights Association. "If an orchestra or group publish their own edition [of that tune] then their edition will fall under copyright."

"This is the beginning of a series of online music initiatives we will be launching, it just happens that classical music is the first," said a spokesman for the company.

BTopenworld could face problems when it sets up other music sites, according to the Music Publishers Association.

"There is a lot more legal red tape around new music. Sometimes copyright fees outweigh the benefits of playing the music," said a spokesman at the MPA.