A federal appeals court has upheld the denial of injunctive relief against the manufacture and distribution of the Rio portable music player. Recording Industry Association of America v. Diamond Multimedia Systems, U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 9856727 (June 15, 1999). In doing so, the court undertakes to explain in some detail “the brave new world of Internet music distribution.”

The introduction of digital audio recording in the 1980s represented a significant technological advance over analog recording, which results in increasingly pronounced degradation in sound quality as successive generations of copies are made. With digital recording there is no appreciable degradation in sound quality no matter how many generations of copies are made. Because digital copying allows thousands of nearly perfect copies (and copies of copies) to be made from a single original recording, music pirates have been using this technology to make and distribute copies of commercially prepared recordings for which they did not obtain a copyright license.