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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 July, 2004, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
U2 'may release on iTunes early'
U2 would be the first major band to rush release an album on iTunes
Rock band U2 have said they may rush-release their new album on Apple iTunes if music stolen from their studio appeared on the internet.

Reuters quoted a source saying an early iTunes release may be "one of the alternatives" if music stolen from a French studio last week appeared.

Singer Bono told the Daily Telegraph this week they would "release it immediately" if the songs were found.

Their US label Interscope has said the record is still due in November.

It would be an unprecedented move if a band as big as U2 rush released their album on a digital format because of piracy fears.

'First time'

Artists including hard rock band Metallica, and rappers 50 Cent and Eminem, have released their albums earlier in stores because of music appearing on file-sharing services.

Singers Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan have released selected tracks off forthcoming albums to iTunes and other legitimate online sites to help raise the profile of the albums.

"This would be the first time I can think of that someone has done it as a countermeasure to piracy," said Geoff Mayfield, senior analyst for Billboard magazine.

U2 have said French police are still looking for a disc which was stolen from the studio they were recording their new album in.

The disc contained rough cuts of several songs from the unfinished album, which is expected to be called Vertigo.

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