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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
EBay dips toe in music downloads
EBay headquarters
EBay sells all manner of items already
The net auction website eBay is dipping its toe into the digital music download market in a six-month trial.

It said it wanted to gauge the demand for buying and selling music through its already successful service.

Pre-approved sellers with licences to music could decide to auction tunes or sell them at a fixed price, as with other items for sale on eBay.

This year has seen a growth in the legal music download market with iTunes, Napster and OD2 dominating.

The pilot will only be available on eBay.com, not the UK site.

Strong community

The move signals a shift in policy for the auction giant.

Music downloads have long been on the list of forbidden articles for sale, along with weapons, human bodies and drugs.

"After 180 days we will evaluate the pilot and determine whether to enable other copyright owners or resellers of downloadable media to list in eBay's Digital Downloads category if they meet certain criteria that will ensure copyright protection, service level agreements and safety," a statement on eBay's international site said.

It continued: "Approved sellers in this pilot have represented to eBay that they are the rights owner or have contractual permission from the rights owner to resell the listed media."

The "pre-approved sellers" include a record label and a music distributor.

Screenshot of Apple iTunes
Apple iTunes launched its UK service in June
The digital download market is one which eBay is keen to look at more closely, particularly as the site already has a strong community of users.

"Our community has told us they come to eBay first when they look for anything," an eBay spokesman said.

"Digital music now is a growing market, and it's something we wanted to explore."

Last year, eBay was named as one of the key websites which has had the biggest impact on UK web users, according to net analysts Nielsen NetRatings.

Legal music downloads is proving to be big business.

Apple's iTunes music store, announced this week it had sold more than 100m songs sold in its first 14 months, making it the most successful legal music site in the world.

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