Virginmega offers track for download without clearance.

French music online portal virginmega.fr continues to sell Madonna's new single "Hung Up" despite objections from Warner Music France and music industry body SNEP over the legality of the offer.

Virginmega's management took the decision to offer Madonna's track this week from its site as a reaction to an exclusive deal made by Warner with telecoms giant France Telecom. Virginmega is the online portal from Virgin Megastore France, part of retail and media company Lagardere Group.

Under that pact, FT online platform Wanadoo has the exclusive pre-release right to distribute the single "Hung Up," starting Oct. 17. In return, FT heavily promoted and marketed the single and the forthcoming album "Confessions on the Dance Floor," due out Nov. 14 in France.

French music retailer trade body SDSD, of which Virgin Megastore is part, officially protested against the deal.

SDSD GM Philippe Person says such exclusives should not exist and that tracks should be made available to all platforms at the same time. "This situation is killing commerce," states Person, who claims these deals are bordering on anti-competitiveness.

"This [FT] operation is in full accordance to the law," says Warner Music France president Thierry Chassagne. He describes SDSD's reaction as "more a mark of fear of telcos entering the music market. But at the end of the day, this campaign will benefit the whole music industry, by generating more sales overall,” he says. “We work closely with SDSD and set up special offers with each of our partners."

Chassagne is adamant that Virginmega has not been granted the right to sell online "Hung Up" and says he is considering all his options. "That is counterfeiting," says Chassagne.

In a letter sent Oct. 20 to Virgin Megatores CEO Jean-Noel Reinhardt and copied to SDSD's Person, SNEP backs Chassagne's position. SNEP director general Herve Rony writes that, "unless proven otherwise, this is an act of counterfeiting," and urges Reinhardt to "immediately put an end" to the sale.

Virgin Megastore executives were not available for comment. In a statement, the portal said it was "hostile" to any sales exclusive. The track was still on sale on Friday (Oct. 21) and is currently its best-selling download.