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RIAA wins first Rio battle

The Recording Industry Association of America is granted a restraining order to halt the sale of Diamond Multimedia's Rio PMP300 audio device.

A federal court in California today granted the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a restraining order to halt the sale and distribution of Diamond Multimedia's Rio PMP300 audio device, marking the opening salvo in a war between the recording industry establishment and high-tech innovation.

Judge Audrey B. Collins of the United States District Court, Central District Court of California ordered a ten-day moratorium on sales of the Rio, but slapped the RIAA with a $500,000 bond to cover potential damage incurred by the company during the ten-day period.

Collins is slated to decide on October 26 whether to grant the RIAA a preliminary injunction.

Last week, the RIAA filed a lawsuit against Diamond over sales of its Rio player, which plays compressed music files that originate on the Internet. Diamond's legal team attributed the suit to the RIAA's fear that the device would threaten its control over music profits and distribution.

The RIAA cried foul play, claiming that Rio violated the American Home Recording Act, legislation that requires digital audio recording devices to implement code systems to curb serial rerecordings of copyrighted music.

The technology in question, in this case MP3 (MPEG 1, Audio Layer 3), compresses music into files that can be downloaded off the Internet and stored on a PC hard drive. The Rio essentially takes the information stored on the PC and plays it back on a lightweight, portable device.

The judge in today's hearing noted that the Rio cannot make serial copies of recordings. She said she was unsure, however, if the Audio Home Recording Act applies to the device, which downloads music from hard drives that already contain Internet audio files. The act exempts computer peripherals as well as other PC-related devices and programs.

Diamond's defense has argued that the Rio is a computer peripheral rather than a recording device.