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Major US indie label backs MP3

The man from Rykodisc -- he say 'yes!'

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US independent record label Rykodisc, whose roster includes Frank Zappa, Richard Thompson, Morphine and Lloyd Cole, has become the latest music company to embrace the MP3 digital music format. The company posted 175 tracks on the GoodNoise Web site, each available for download for 99 cents. According to the company, more songs will be posted over the next few months. Rykodisc is the largest record label to support MP3, which is generally viewed by the music industry as a technology that promotes piracy. That led the big five companies -- Sony, Polygram, EMI, Time-Warner and Bertelsmann -- to announce the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), a committee charged with developing a universal digital music format that, unlike MP3, makes it very hard for download tracks to be copied. Yet such is the level of suppport for MP3 among users that earlier this year many of the companies backing the format came together to form the Genuine Music Coalition to create a version of MP3 that incorporates a digital watermark to prevent piracy. That move won grudging support from the music industry's chief trade organisation, the Recording Industry Association of America, which has so far been vigorous in its condemnation of MP3. This may well have been instrumental in persuading Rykodisc to go for MP3 rather than wait for the SDMI to issue its own format. "Rykodisc is answering the strong consumer demand for music in the MP3 format," was the official response. "We want to give the MP3 customer a legitimate alternative to unauthorised distribution, which is already pervasive on the Internet." ® See also GoodNoise, Harry Fox deal 'legitimises' MP3

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