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Pirated U2 CD Released Online

Pirated versions of U2's new album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" have emerged on Internet file-sharing networks two weeks before it goes on sale, throwing into question its official release date. 

A London spokeswoman for the band on Monday would only say that U2 was aware of the illicit copies, but that no decision had yet been made on changing the release date.

The Irish rock band has been due to release the album on Nov. 22 in Europe and the following day in the United States. It is the first studio album in four years for the band signed to Island Records, a unit of Universal Music (EAUG.PA).

Earlier this summer, a tape containing rough tracks from the upcoming album went missing from a studio in Nice, France where the band was recording. At the time, the band said it might move the release date if the tracks appear online first.

The online appearance of unsanctioned versions of an album before the official release has dogged many music acts.

Record labels fight back by sending copy-proof promotional copies to radio stations and journalists, and hiring firms to flood file-sharing networks with "spoof" tracks with poor sound quality, which crowd out better-sounding pirated versions.

"With any major release, the record companies start about a week in advance flooding the networks. That way users are more likely to download a spoofed copy," said Jim Graham, a spokesman for California-based online piracy tracking firm BayTSP.

"But over time, the pirated versions win out. It's very cat and mouse. It's like the cold war," he added.

By Bernhard Warner, European Internet Correspondent, LONDON (Reuters)

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November 15, 2004

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