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Universal to bring digital music service to UK

Major Bluematter expansion coming this autumn

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Universal, one of the world's 'big five' recording companies, will bring its Bluematter digital music service to the UK this autumn, along with an expansion of the service in the US.

The company's boss, chief executive of parent company Seagram, Edgar Bronfman, broke the news at a Seagram Q4 earnings announcement yesterday.

"Bluematter was only launched two weeks ago but we expect to expand it to thousands of tracks over the next couple of months,'' he said.

Bluematter is currently operating on a trial basis, providing 60-odd songs to online retailers, who sell them on to music consumers.

"What the music industry needs to do is come up with a market-born solution, where people who own the copyright are paid,'' Bronfman said when asked about preventing illegal downloads. "I believe we are closer to a solution... I expect a robust alternative for music lovers by the end of the year."

That solution is expected to not only prevent illegal copying of digital downloads, but protect music stored in other formats, including CD, too.

Bronfman's comments on copyright protections are clearly a dig at Napster, the software developer whose legal tussle with the Recording Industry Association of America comes to court later today.

"I believe the courts will continue to enforce copyright laws,'' Bronfman added. ®

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