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Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 11:52 GMT
Chumbawamba's MP3 blast
Chumbawamba at the 1998 Brits
Chumbawamba: File-sharing fans
British pop anarchists Chumbawamba have entered the row over digital music - by producing a free downloadable song which samples file-sharing opponents Eminem and Metallica.

The Leeds-based group hit international fame in 1997 with their drinking anthem Tubthumping, and achieved notoriety when they drenched Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott with water at the following year's Brit Awards.

Their new track, Pass It Along, features samples of pop superstar Madonna, rappers Eminem and Dr Dre, and rock band Metallica, who have all spoken out against free music on the internet.

Madonna found tracks from her album Music were being swapped on the controversial Napster service months before it was officially released. Metallica have sued Napster for copyright infringement.

Industry 'stifles creativity'

Chumbawamba singer Dunstan Bruce said: "It's not passing music around for free which is killing music, but the industry which is stifling creativity by only ever thinking in terms of dollars and pounds.

Lars Ulrich
Metallica's Lars Ulrich is at the forefront of effort
"If [Metallica drummer] Lars Ulrich, Madonna and Eminem had never sold any records and were worried about entering a poverty-stricken old age, then their determination to stop their music being passed around would be understandable.

"But what we're seeing is some of the richest pop stars in the world not being able to screw every last penny from their fans."

He added: "After all, file-sharing is hardly going to have an adverse effect on their standard of living."

Debate splits industry

The debate over sites such as Napster and has divided the music industry, with Metallica leading the fight against free music on the internet.

But Eurythmics musician Dave Stewart gave Napster his backing at a London conference earlier this month, saying he hoped it would prompt a shake-up in the way the music industry treated performers.

"Anything anarchistic like Napster is good - it makes artists ask why they are not in control of what they are doing," he said.

Tracks from Radiohead's album Kid A were available on the internet - with the band's blessing - long before it hit the shops, while Napster sponsored a free tour by US rock group Limp Bizkit.

The song is available from Chumbawamba's website, The First Church of Chumbawamba.

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