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Music companies block Diamond Rio launch

A judge has granted an injunction blocking the shipment of Diamond's Rio, which is claimed to be an aid to piracy

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A US judge has barred Diamond Multimedia from producing its Rio portable MP3 player for ten days, pending discussion of a permanent injunction on 26 October. Diamond and the Recording Industry of America (RIA), which is backed by the major music companies, are locked in legal combat over the device, which was due to ship this month. The Rio is a pocket unit which is able to save and replay an hour of music stored in the MP3 format. The RIA claims that it will allow users to download pirated music from the Internet, and is therefore in violation of the 1992 US Audio Home Recording Act. We're baffled by this, and actually rather worried as well. The music industry would appear to be arguing that an item of recording equipment is illegal because it can be used for piracy and, um, can't quite a lot of things be used for this? Effectively, the big outfits are starting to flex their muscles in a bid to police and to control the distribution of music on the Internet, and the next logical step is for them to get the courts to implement more legal requirements for devices to have anti-copying systems built into them. That's what they want Diamond to do with the Rio. As we've argued here in the past, one of the logical steps after that is a sort of Krystalnacht of analogue recording equipment - for so long as people can plug this stuff into speaker sockets, the cunning plans of the musos won't work. So first stop building them, then kill-off the installed base. Diamond's counter-argument is that the 92 Act specifically exempts computers, and as the Rio uses computers to store the audio files, it's also exempt. But here's another logical next step - quite a lot of audio gear today is pretty computerish, and tomorrow it will be more so. So where's the join? ® Click for more stories

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