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EDITIONS
 Monday, 20 January, 2003, 17:51 GMT
Europe offered free digital downloads
Internet piracy is harming CD sales across the world
The campaign is an attempt to halt falling music sales
Music producers in Europe have announced a second digital download day in a bid to promote legal music on the internet.

The campaign - Digital Download Day Europe - will allow music fans to download five euros' (3.40) worth of music for free from sites that pay royalties.

The promotion takes place on 21 March and will be available in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and The Netherlands.

The scheme, which was piloted in the UK in October, is an attempt to fightback against the huge levels of internet piracy.

An estimated four-and-a-half million people in Europe are thought to be downloading up to a billion pirated tracks through the internet.
CD-ROM
Users will be able to burn the tracks onto CDs

They are often swapped over peer--to-peer sites, where computer users swap with each other.

The October pilot of Digital Download Day attracted hundreds of thousands of new users.

Welcome move

Consumers can sign up to take part in the day from Monday, through online retailers such as HMV, Tiscali, AlaPage, Ministry of Sound, MSN, Freeserve, dotmusic and Wanadoo.

The scheme unites major record companies such as Warners, EMI, Universal and BMG, as well as independent labels.

More than 150,000 tracks will be available to download, with a third able to be copied to CD.

The campaign has been spearheaded by OD2, the online music provider set up by rock star Peter Gabriel, and has been welcomed by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Charles Grimsdale, the chief executive officer of OD2, said: "The task for us all is to make a compelling case for consumers. They're asking the question 'Why should I ultimately pay for something I can get for free?'

"Yet there's a widening gulf between the quality of peer-to-peer files, which are increasingly virus-ridden and unreliable, and the premium grade service provided through legitimate channels."

He said the download day allowed the public to compare the differences themselves.

The scheme was unveiled at the MIDEM music conference in Cannes, France.

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  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Mark Gregory
"Computer hackers will no doubt immediately try and devise ways round it"
See also:

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