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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK


Music industry loses MP3 appeal

The player does not break US anti-piracy laws, a court has ruled

A US appeal court has ruled that the hand-held Rio MP3 player, on which users can download music files from the Internet and play them at home, does not break piracy laws.

The decision by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals is a defeat for the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has tried to halt distribution of the player.

However, the record industry is now developing its own version of the player, following an earlier court defeat last year.

The player plugs into a PC and can take just minutes to transfer MP3 files using software that compresses and stores digital versions of CD recordings.

The RIAA, which represents the major record companies in the US, claimed the Rio was made for the pirating of copyright music, and artists and publishers could lose billions of dollars in royalties.

First action taken in autumn

Last autumn, US District Judge Audrey Collins denied an injunction which would have halted the Rio's manufacturer, Diamond Multimedia Systems, from distributing the player.

The appeal court upheld the ruling, and also found the Rio was not covered by the anti-piracy law invoked by the association.

Diamond Multimedia's lawyer Andrew P Bridges said the ruling should end the lawsuit. RIAA spokeswoman Alexandra Walsh said it was reviewing the ruling and had not decided whether it should appeal further.

In the UK, many high street chains have decided not to stock the Rio players for fear of legal action from the music industry.

Despite the legal uncertainties, several acts around the world have offered their material to Web users on MP3. They include rocker Tom Petty and rap act Public Enemy.

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