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Wednesday, 10 May, 2000, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
EMI enters digital music arena
Tina Turner's albums will be available online
Tina Turner's albums will be available online
EMI, the world's third largest music company, says it will begin distributing albums and single via the internet.

The trials will begin in the United States, with 100 albums and 40 associated singles being made available for digital downloads.

The company will initially make available on the web albums by Pink Floyd, Tina Turner, the Spice Girls and Frank Sinatra.

Customers will be able to order, pay for and access digital versions of albums through internet music retailers like CDNow or Amazon.com.

"Digital delivery will eventually become part of our standard release pattern. We are committed to making high quality music available to the consumer in a wide variety of formats," said Ken Berry, chief executive of EMI recorded music.

EMI said that the prices of digitally downloaded albums would be similar to those sold traditionally.

EMI has already taken a taken a minority stake in Net4Music, a portal for musicians, as part of its plan to digitise sheet music.

Controversy over Napster

The music industry has been divided over its attitude towards the internet, which offers the potential to bypass the record industry and release albums directly to the public.

While some groups have decided to take this route, the music industry has been slow to agree a standard format to allow the commercial exploitation of the web.

The delay has allowed other sites like MP3 and Napster to flourish.

Now the industry is trying to fight back. It has launched a court case against Napster, an internet site which allows individuals to trade and copy songs on the web by producing an online catalogue.

Music industry lawyers say it amounts to the breach of copyright and piracy.

They have been joined in their complaint by heavy metal band Metallica, who recently presented the company with a list of 300,000 computer users who, they said, had illegally downloaded their songs.

There have already been a string of lawsuits relating to MP3, which allows people to listen to CDs bought by the company.

In April Sony Music and BMG announced plans to begin limited digital sales of singles over the internet using secure formats which cannot be easily copied.

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See also:

02 Mar 00 | Business
UK music 'must tackle internet'
29 Feb 00 | Brit Awards
Music online: The story so far
24 Jan 00 | Business
Record companies sue MP3.com
24 Jan 00 | Business
EMI: A brief history
09 May 00 | Entertainment
The music industry's MP3 headache
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