RIAA Taking Fight to CD Burning

The record industry, fresh from its legal victories against peer-to-peer networks, has now turned its sights on another method of obtaining music: homemade CDs.

Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America told the Associated Press before appearing at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers conference that "CD burning is a problem that is really undermining sales."

Previously, the RIAA had maintained that illicit downloading was the biggest problem affecting sales of legitimate music. However, the group has apparently had a change of heart after a recent NPD Group study showed that "burned CDs" accounted for 29 percent of music obtained by listeners in 2004.

Downloads from file-sharing networks accounted for 16 percent of all obtained music. Legal CDs accounted for about half, with online music store sales, such as Apple's iTunes, accounting for four percent.

RIAA's Bainwol says that copyright-protected CDs are the future of the industry. Record companies have tried to employ Microsoft's technology for digital rights management, but companies such as Apple and some of the listening public have resisted that approach.

If Microsoft were the DRM of choice, it would lock out the transfer of tracks to millions of iPod owners. However, two CDs by the Foo Fighters and Dave Matthews Band have still done well despite copyright protection that makes them incompatible with the iPod.

It is unclear why the record industry has waited until now to target CD burning, although several record stores have recently reported declining CD sales amidst soaring purchases of blank discs.

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