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Tuesday, 18 July, 2000, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
EMI launches digital sales
Frank Sinatra: EMI artist
Start spreading the news: Frank Sinatra is available online
Record giant EMI is making albums and singles available over the internet in its bid to fight off online outfits such as Napster.

Tuesday's release of 100 albums and 40 singles is the largest such release by a record company, and is being seen as a major test for the future of the record industry.

The tracks can be recorded in Microsoft's Windows Media 7, which is also being launched to coincide with EMI's move.

Artists whose work can be downloaded include Pink Floyd, the Spice Girls and Frank Sinatra.

The tracks are available from online retailers such as CDNow and Amazon, while 30-second previews are being offered at the Windows Media site.

EMI artists, the Spice Girls, with their Madame Tussauds dummies
The real thing: Spice Girls records are also available
"Digital delivery offers a tremendous opportunity for artists, music fans and retailers and EMI is committed to being a leader in making high quality digital downloads available to consumers," said EMI's senior vice president of new media, Jay Samit.

The tracks will be in a secure format to prevent widespread piracy. Each music file will have use restrictions written into the software code, limiting the number of times a file can be copied for personal use.

EMI's venture comes as legal battles rage in the US over digital music distribution, involving the popular Napster and MP3.com sites.

Popular MP3 compression technology turns music on compact discs into small computer files, making it much easier for people to share music over the internet. But it also allows the distribution of music without any copyright protection or collection of royalties.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is currently suing Napster, which allows users to share files with each other, for copyright infringement.

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See also:

15 Jul 00 | Business
EMI tests web music sales
18 Jul 00 | Entertainment
MP3 fans target politicians
13 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Corrs join net piracy fight
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