MP3 Association Formed

Hot on the heels of a favorable RIAA/Rio decision (see related story), five of the pioneers in the rapidly expanding market for downloadable music---GoodNoise Corp.,, MusicMatch, Xing Technology Corp., and Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc.---announced the formation of the MP3 Association, an industry trade group focused on the "continued evolution and adoption of the MP3 (MPEG 1 or 2, Layer 3) standard." The Association will focus on three primary goals: promoting MP3 technology as the next-generation digital music format, educating consumers about MP3 and its legal use, and opening new creative avenues for musicians and developers.

"The formation of the MP3 Association unites five of the leaders in the online music world today," said Joeli Nelson-Payne of Xing Technology, a spokesperson for the Association. "This alliance will provide the MP3 community with a united voice in the debate over the future of digital audio, and will reinforce MPEG 1 or 2, Layer 3 as the primary vehicle for the delivery and enjoyment of online music."

MPEG 1 or 2, Layer 3, or MP3, is an aggressive audio compression standard that allows tracks from a digital source, such as an audio CD, to be compressed into a digital file 1/10 of its original size. Once compressed, songs can be stored on a hard drive for playback on any Windows PC or Macintosh computer, with sound quality remaining relatively intact. MP3 files can be streamed for live web broadcasts, transferred to portable music players, or downloaded and purchased simultaneously for a small fee.

In recent months, thousands of illegally copied MP3 files have also been turning up around the Internet; this has placed the technology under suspicion by many of the major record companies. The RIAA has also taken aggressive action in an attempt to prevent loss of royalty monies resulting from illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted material.