Diamond Multimedia has thrown more fuel on the fire in its ongoing legal battle with the record industry over its Rio MP3 portable player by setting up an Internet portal.
In October 1998, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued Diamond, alleging that its Rio PMP300 MP3 player violated the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act because it can download and store music from the Internet without paying artists? royalties. The RIAA said its move was designed to combat growing music piracy.
A US federal judge later denied the RIAAs request for an injunction, but the body said it would appeal. In December, Diamond countersued (see VNU Newswire, 3 December, 1998), claiming the lawsuit against it resulted from a conspiracy between the RIAA and others to restrain trade and restrict competition among manufacturers in portable MP3 devices.
Diamond now attests that its new audio portal, www.RioPort.com, is intended to promote legitimate Internet music by providing links to MP3 music and other audio content available on the Net. Rioport.com will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of the multimedia company.
It also claims the portal will eliminate the frustration consumers currently suffer when they stumble on links to MP3 pirated music sites that have been closed down by the record industry.
Wade Meyercord, Diamond?s senior vice president, said: "One of the most frequent questions customers ask is, 'where can I go to find legitimate, working content on the web'. RioPort.com solves this problem by providing a one stop site that points Rio users to the wide selection of content that's available as well as providing information of value to Rio users and MP3 fans."
Diamond has signed a number of partnership deals to promote and link MP3 sites, including Laundry Room Records, Music Global Network, Liquid Audio, MP3.com, Rap.com, eMusic and UBL.com.
Steve Rennie, president of UBL.com, the leading independent music Web site, said: "The controversy in the music industry over the MP3 format has clouded the fact that it's a great tool for promoting independent artists, and it's proven successful for artist development when used in conjunction with traditional forms of promotion."
He added: "We intend to work closely with RioPort.com in promoting artists through the Internet and through their music portal."
Although Diamond has argued that its MP3 device was never intended for piracy, a handful of hackers in the UK and the US have recently succeeded in creating two way transfer capabilities, something Diamond had claimed was impossible. This has lead to pirated software appearing on the Internet.
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