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Proponents of the MP3 digital music encoding system who argue that artists support the format because it takes the power of distribution out of the hands of the records labels and places it in theirs may have to think again. French composer/performer Jean-Michel Jarre today presented to the European Parliament a petition signed by 400 of European leading musicians demanding full copyright protection for music distributed via the Internet. "We want to use new digital technologies like the Internet to create and deliver our music," said the petition, quoted by Reuters. "But we will only feel confident doing so if we know that the laws are there to stop our works falling victim to pirates." That is likely to be a dig at MP3, which is the most widespread digital music format as much because it makes copying music easy as because it's an open standard. The petition itself was provoked by the latest proposals on amending the European Union's copyright legislation. The process of updating European law has drawn fierce debate from all sides of the Internet music distribution debate, with artists and record companies on one side, and consumer electronics and Internet firms on the other. The former seek better protection against copyright piracy, made easier by digital technology, while the latter are keen to ensure the new laws don't limit consumer choice. Like much of the debate over MP3 in the US, it's a battle between vested interests and new ventures over the highly lucrative business opportunities the Internet offers, with the musicians themselves stuck somewhere in the middle. The European Parliament is set to vote on new laws tomorrow. ®

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