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Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Napster bites the Spice Girls
Spice Girls
The Spice Girls: Fans can hear their album online
Tracks from the new Spice Girls album have appeared on the controversial Napster download service - after alert internet users found tracks secretly uploaded by their record company.

All 11 tracks from Forever - due out on 6 November - are being swapped on the internet after Virgin Records staff put the tracks on a server operated by audio software outfit RealNetworks.

Four tracks - including current single Holler - were put on the RealNetworks site to promote the company's new audio player.

But fans discovered that all 11 tracks had been uploaded to the site, converted them into MP3 format, and are now offering them on the Napster site.

Napster is a free programme which allows registered users to locate MP3 audio files on each others' hard drives.

Heavy traffic

There was heavy traffic on the Napster site on Thursday afternoon as users scrambled to download the tracks.

A US-based fan website is also offering the tracks to download, with its delighted owner, a 20-year-old in Los Angeles, commenting: "I've been listening to this album non-stop all night and into today - I haven't really slept."

"This is what we have been waiting for for three years," he added.

Nobody at Virgin Records in London was available for comment.

Virgin's internet troubles

However, Virgin has had internet trouble with its high-profile acts before.

The Smashing Pumpkins' final album, Machina II/ The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music, appeared on the internet earlier this year.

Tracks appeared after the band distributed copies of the album to their friends following Virgin's refusal to release it legitimately.

Singer Billy Corgan has been critical of Virgin for not backing the rock act, who will disband by the end of the year.

In the US, Virgin is a member of the Recording Industry Association of America, which is currently suing Napster for infringement of copyright.

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See also:

24 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Spice Girls head for top
25 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Corrs lobby Europe over net piracy
25 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Chumbawamba's MP3 blast
12 Oct 00 | Entertainment
We're legal, says Napster rival
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Napster gives artists 'control'
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