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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Record labels 'fight' download plan
The law would put all download sites on an equal footing BBC
The law would put all download sites on an equal footing
The US entertainment industry is trying to block a new law that would force record companies to let all internet download services have equal access to music, reports say.

Trade newspaper Variety said record companies would not be allowed to favour their own planned download sites over independent services if the proposals became law.

The legislation was introduced by Democrat congressman Rick Boucher, who has been a supporter of making music widely available through internet services such as Napster.

He was concerned that the major record labels would lock other contenders out of the online market, Variety said.

The major labels are preparing to launch two services BBC
The major labels are preparing to launch two services
But the companies have complained, saying that would put too many restrictions on the developing market and hinder its growth.

Members of an industry group called the Copyright Assembly were due to meet US politicians on Monday.

The legislation would make it illegal for record companies to give exclusive access, a cheaper deal or better conditions for certain sites to sell their music.

The assembly said in a letter to lawmakers it would cause "enormous harm" to consumers, and stifle flexibility, experimentation and adaptation to consumer demand, Variety said.

Napster AP
Napster is due to relaunch before the end of the year
It would also create "a number of new regulations and impediments... before the marketplace has a chance to develop on its own".

Last year, Boucher introduced controversial legislation to make it legal to create a digital copy of a recording - after first proving ownership of the music - and send that copy over the internet.

Meanwhile, the major record labels are due to launch two new internet download services before the end of the year. BMG, AOL Time Warner and RealNetworks are working together on MusicNet, while Sony and EMI will launch PressPlay.

Napster is also due to relaunch before the end of the year.

The Copyright Assembly includes the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Interactive Digital Software Association, the Association of American Publishers plus advertising and sports companies.

See also:

27 Sep 01 | New Media
MusicNet to launch 'in 60 days'
25 Sep 01 | Business
Napster set for comeback
10 Sep 01 | New Media
Online music-swapping rocks
23 Jul 01 | Business
Online music sales set to soar
18 May 01 | New Media
Digital music firms' copyright fears
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