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Virgin France cops €600k piracy fine

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Virgin France has been slapped with a €600,000 fine for illegally downloading Madonna's Hung Up for resale on its site - in the process ignoring an "exclusive deal reached by Warner Music France with France Telecom and Orange", the BBC reports.

France Telecom had inked a €500,000 deal with Warner, which allowed it to exclusively offer the song for sale on its website or for download to mobile phones. The agreement ran for one week in October, but "after the tune was made available the Virgin store downloaded it, repackaged it and made it available on the Virginmega website", a Paris industrial court ruled.

France Telecom's Herve Payan told the International Herald Tribune: "This is an amazing case of simple piracy by a respected company. Virgin behaved in a surreal manner by downloading the song, cracking protection measures, and then selling it from their own website."

In its defence, Virgin France declared it had "broken the exclusive agreement in the interest of consumers", - a reference to the growing practice of exclusive release deals which, some argue, "limit consumer access to music". The Beeb cites similar deals in the US involving Starbucks which ruffled feathers down at HMV.

The court, however, duly fined Virgin France, ordering it to pay €250,000 each to France Telecom and Orange, and €100,000 to Warner. ®

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