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BMG Entertainment is to bring a music download trial in Europe through a deal with New York-based Magex.

BMG, the music division of Napster-befriender Bertelsmann - says the move is the first part of its plan to put its whole stable of 'artists' - including Christina Aguilera, Kenny G and teen groups Five and Westlife - online.

The UK will be BMG's guinea pig, with a pre-Christmas internal trial and a semi-commercial trial early next year. If successful, it is planning a full commercial rollout, possibly to the rest of Europe, soon after.

In October Bertelsmann broke ranks with fellow music giants and ditched its lawsuit against file-swapper site Napster. The two former foes said they planned to create a subscription-based service.

"Through Magex, the BMG catalogue will be available online in the UK for the first time," said Patrick Campbell, Magex Chairman and CEO. "The European community is a huge growth market for the music industry."

Magex provides a service for buying and selling music in digital format over the Net.

Forrester Research reckons the market for digital downloads will be worth $2 billion by 2003. ®

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