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MP3 and Internet Threat

MP3 has replaced ''sex" as the most looked for word on the Internet. But, what exactly is an MP3, and how much of a threat is it to the music recording industry?

MP3 (MPEG-1, Layer 3) is a codec, or compression/decompression format, that enables users to download and save their favorite music tracks, record from their CDs, or share these recordings with friends online. The technology was first introduced in 1993, and recently more and more users are using this simple technology to trade their music freely and often illegally. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) unsuccessfully sued Diamond Multimedia for their creation of a portable MP3 player, the Rio player, because it violated the Audio Home Recording Act.

But, MP3 is not the only digital audio format on the market. Others include Liquid Audio and a2b, more advanced MPEGs developed by AT&T and Microsoft.

Although more recent models follow certain format standards developed by the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) founded by members of the RIAA, these standards might have come too late. Music is spreading itself into more and more mediums that are becoming harder and harder to control. Ericsson has even developed a cell phone with an MP3 player attached that can connect to the Internet and play music through a headset.

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Last Update: April 5, 2000