A Year Ago: MP4 gets cool welcome, but 'resistance is futile...'

First published: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 12:28:16 GMT

An alternative to MP3 hit the Web last week with Global Music Outlet's (GMO) launch of MP4, but not everyone is convinced the newcomer will succeed.

Developed over the past year, MP4 is seen by some industry watchers as the successor to MP3, but Diamond Multimedia, maker of the Rio MP3 player is skeptical: "MP4 is a proprietary standard, MP3 is open," said a spokesman who said the format would never find its way onto portable devices because it activates an embedded player when launched.

While Diamond shuns the format, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has fought a bitter battle against MP3 and Diamond, is likely to give the new technology as wide a berth as its predecessor. The RIAA did not return phone calls.

The naming of MP4 has also caused some raised eyebrows because of the possible confusion with MPEG-4, an audio and video compression format endorsed by the International Standards Organisation as an open standard for media delivery. There is no connection between the two.

GMO's boss, Anthony Stonefield, remains optimistic despite initial reactions. Stonefield plans to appeal to the music industry bigwigs with MP4's ability to securely encode sound files to protect copyright. "With our MP4 we hope to bridge the widening gap between the needs of online music fans and the rights of the artists and record companies that produce the music," Stonefield said in a statement.

GMO plans to sub-license MP4 encoders to online artists, labels, distributors and publishers.

Public Enemy's `Swindler's Lust' will be one of the first tracks available in MP4 at the Public Enemy Web site. Public Enemy Manager Walter Leaphart commented: "Chuck D (co-founder of Public Enemy) continues to push the edge of the envelope, forcing the industry to take notice and adjust the way it unfairly does business. Resistance is futile."

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