U2 will not bring forward the online release of the band's new album, following news that it has leaked onto the Internet, Macworld has learned.

U2 representatives told Macworld: "At present there is no plan to bring the album release date forward."

Last night it emerged that the new album - 'How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb' - has appeared on Internet file-sharing networks two weeks before it is due to go on sale, thus dismissing the possibility of its earlier debut on iTunes. The Irish rock band has been due to release the album on November 22 in Europe.

The reason for speculation that U2 would release the album early on iTunes is based on U2's vow that it would do so, if the album was spotted on peer-to-peer services before its official release.

In July a tape containing rough tracks from the upcoming album was stolen during a photo shoot in the south of France. At the time Bono told The Telegraph: "If it is on the Internet this week, we will release it immediately as a legal download on iTunes, and get hard copies into the shops by the end of the month. It would be a real pity. It would screw up years of work and months of planning, not to mention f**king up our holidays. But once it's out, it's out."

The relationship between U2 and Apple – with the launch of the U2 iPod and The Complete U2; 400 U2s tracks – would suggest that a pre-release of the album on iTunes is possible. However, the statement from U2 would suggest that this will not happen.

Spoofing

According to a Reuters report, the online appearance of unsanctioned versions of an album before the official release has dogged many music acts. The report states that "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."

Online piracy tracking firm BayTSP spokesman Jim Graham said: "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."