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Apple doubles online music sales (Intermediate)

Apple's new iTunes online music store has been a big success, with more than two million songs downloaded in its first 16 days.

The online store has more than 200,000 songs for sale, costing 99 cents each.

However, the first problems with the idea have started to appear. Some Macintosh users have begun to exchange songs online - without paying because they have found a way to break Apple's copy-protection software.

US, Macintosh only - for now

At the moment the service is only for less than 5% of the world's computer users, people who have an Apple Macintosh and live in the United States.

iTunes for Windows is planned for later this year, and there are plans to offer the service in other countries as well.

On the iTunes web site, customers can listen to a few seconds of songs before deciding whether to buy them.

By clicking a button the music is downloaded to their computer.

Apple's online music store is the first of its kind that shows any clear commercial success.

Most record companies have tried to do the same, but have never attracted customers in large numbers.

Getting music online was made popular by Napster. Napster users could exchange songs with each other, but without paying any royalties to artists or record companies.

Napster was taken to court and shut down, because its service used a central list of files on Napster's computers.

Other file exchange services like Kazaa and Morpheus use decentralised lists where users can find and download music, and no legal action has been taken against them yet.

But now some web sites and software have appeared that make it possible for Macintosh users to make copies of songs downloaded from iTunes without paying.

Industry executives have told Reuters news agency that although these problems exist, for the moment Apple's iTunes is a great success.

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Adapted by Chris Fry, May 2003 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/business/3029613.stm BBC MMIII Published: 2003/05/15