A loophole has been uncovered in Apple's iTunes Countdown competition that means people needn't buy a track.

The law states that all competitions must offer everyone an equal chance of winning – without having to pay anything, and Apple is abiding by this rule.

According to Engadget entering the competition without buying a track is simple. "Just select any album or song or whatever, and click the Tell a Friend button. Instead of telling a friend, put in the following email address [email protected] Click send and you’re entered."

Apple even outlines this method of entry in the small print. It states: "You will automatically be entered into the Promotion by: 1) downloading a song from iTunes (any Free Download Single of the Week will be deemed an ineligible entry); or 2) a free alternative means of sending an email to Apple at [email protected] via the iTunes Tell a Friend feature (a song download or Tell a Friend email will be deemed an Entry(ies).

"The Tell a Friend feature can be easily accessed at iTunes by selecting a song, and clicking the Tell a Friend link that is displayed for that song. One Entry will be automatically submitted for each song downloaded or Tell a Friend email sent. The Promotion begins following the downloading of the 95,000,000th iTunes song, and ends with the downloading of the 100 millionth Entry (End Date). Only Entries submitted in this time period will be accepted."

The competition was announced by Apple last week as the nuber of songs downloaded from iTunes crossed the 95 million mark. Apple is giving away 50 20GB iPods, "one to the purchaser of each 100,000th song downloaded between 95 million and 100 million songs," the company said.

"In addition, the person who downloads the 100 millionth song will receive a 17-inch PowerBook, a 40GB iPod, a gift certificate for 10,000 iTunes songs to create the ultimate music library for their iPod and the opportunity to create their own Celebrity Playlist to be published on the iTunes Music Store. All iTunes Music Store customers in the US, UK, France and Germany are eligible."