Apple have launched their iTunes Match service in the UK.
The cloud system allows users to pay a fee and have their music libraries scanned by Apple, who then replace songs with higher quality versions which can be accessed from other Apple devices such as iPods.
The service, which will seemingly allow Apple to make a profit from illegal downloads, was launched in the US in November but was only made available in the UK yesterday (December 15).
Users must pay £21.99 per year to use iTunes Match, but in return will be able to replace any illicit downloads or songs ripped from CDs with better quality tracks.
Figures within the music industry have welcome the launch, with Universal Music UK director of digital music Paul Smernicki telling the BBC:
We believe that it creates a great and seamless experience for music buyers that will ultimately see increased sales and digital conversion.
Explaining why Apple had been able to launch the service and gain permission from record labels so quickly, meanwhile, independent digital analyst Mark Mulligan said: “The reason why this can happen is because Apple essentially owns the music industry’s most valuable customers – the ones spending the lion’s share in the digital marketplace.
“The major record labels are more willing to do things in Apple’s ecosystem than they would elsewhere.”
In November this year, The Who‘s Peter Townshend described Apple as a “digital vampire”. The guitarist claimed that the technology giant was “destroying copyright as we know it” and was damaging the growth of new music.