Digital dastards

RIAA goes after music pirates on the Web

CANNES — After the word sex, MP3 is now the most common entry used to search for Web sites on the Internet.

In his keynote address at the Midem music market Monday, Cary Sherman, senior exec VP for the Recording Industry Assn. of America, cited the fact to illustrate how big a problem the downloading and duplication of illegal MP3 music files is to the legit record industry.

In one afternoon, he said, the RIAA recently discovered 80 pirate sites, of which 60% were based in the U.S., offering about 20,000 songs in the MP3 format. The files are playable on home computer systems and consumer devices such as the Rio, a portable player for computer-generated files. Sherman referred to MP3 as “the raw fuel for a wildfire of intellectual property theft.”

Battling pirates

As a consequence, the RIAA will soon up the ante in policing the Internet by targeting not only sites and links to sites but also search engines that lead net users to MP3 files. The campaign coincides with the Secure Digital Music Initiative, the worldwide music industry forum seeking to find a compatible standard for encrypting and watermarking music sold through on-line downloading.

Part of the initiative’s brief is to brand legitimate music. To that end, Liquid Audio, the California-based on-line music company, announced it has banded together with 48 of its peers to create “Genuine Music,” a new logo to identify legal sites and their product.

On board are, Rykodisc, K-Tel Intl., Tower Records and even the maker of the Rio, Diamond Multimedia, in a bid to improve its image.

Liquid logo

Liquid Audio is hoping the logo will be adopted by the industry at large when SDMI eventually decides on an international brand. The company also has plans for an open standard for music authentication using its own watermarking technology.

Meanwhile, concerts continue apace at Midem, everything from Squeeze’s Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook hosting “Best of British” at the Martinez on Monday night to top-rung classical.

Squeeze has struck a deal with AT&T’s a2b music to post the band’s song “In the Morning” for free download on the net, done in conjunction with the HMV record store chain, and a2b’s first such promotion in Europe. The company has marketed artists such as Bonnie Raitt and Willie Nelson in a similar way in the U.S.

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