Legal way forward for online music

Just days after the US recording industry failed to stop Diamond's music-on-the-web device, another company has launched similar software -- only this time it's legal.
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

AudioSoft has gone public with Virtuosa Gold, a virtual stereo system that plays and downloads up to 300 tracks onto a single 1Gb drive.

It also has a CD ripper for making compilations from users' own CD collections; and downloaded tracks can be burned to a writeable CD for listening away from the computer.

The Recording Industry Association America's (RIAA) application to halt shipment of Diamond's Rio player was denied by the US courts on Monday. A spokesman for Diamond said: "The ruling shows that we complied with the law in all but name." Shipment of the players will begin this month.

In reference to the RIAA-Diamond feud, AudioSoft president Francois Xavier Nuttall said players like Rio are a good idea and one which consumers will want, but believes any development must be done with the consent of the music industry. "Security must be paramount" he said.

AudioSoft is determined that all its software complies with US copyright laws and to this end has worked closely with the music industry to ensure Virtuosa Gold is fully compliant with the Audio Home Recording Act. The software allows users to make only two copies of downloaded music, any more must be paid for.

Nuttall believes software like Virtuosa Gold will become increasingly popular as people turn to the Net to buy and record their favourite tracks. He dismisses the MP3 format used to illegally download music.

"Only legal software allows you to access content from the major labels. The pirate trade is being heavily policed by the RIAA," he said. The fight back will be a legal one. "The RIAA will increasingly bring action against such pirate sites," he said.

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