The Digital Media Association (DiMA), along with member companies Launch Media, MusicMatch, MTVi Group, Listen.com, and XACT Radio, has sued the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in an

The Digital Media Association (DiMA), along with member companies Launch Media, MusicMatch, MTVi Group, Listen.com, and XACT Radio, has sued the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in an escalating battle over Internet radio services.

In the suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the companies are asking for clarification as to whether consumer-influenced, or "interactive," Internet radio services fall within the sound recording statutory license enacted as part of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The RIAA claims that interactive Webcasts should not be eligible for the statutory license, which ensures performance royalties to recording companies and artists. On May 24, the RIAA filed a copyright-infringement suit against Launch's Web radio service, Launchcast, which it says contains interactive elements that are not covered under its licensing agreements with certain labels.

At issue is whether "personalizing" is the same as "interactivity," since interactive music streaming services do not qualify for statutory Webcasting licenses. Webcasters that do not qualify for a statutory license must negotiate directly with individual record labels and copyright owners, a more complicated, time-consuming and most likely expensive option. The statutory license allows Webcasters to broadcast music for a fee to be set by a federal copyright panel.

DiMA's action is in response to the motion the RIAA filed on May 25 that sought to prevent the plaintiffs from participating in the pending Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) proceeding set to begin July 30, which will set royalty rates for online music services. No decision has been made on that motion, and all parties may participate unless the Copyright Office rules otherwise.

Sources close to the situation said Launchcast was singled out for the RIAA's earlier legal action because it offers the most extensive personalization.

"Launch has been well aware of our concern about their service," RIAA senior VP business and legal affairs Steven Marks said. "There was ample opportunity for them to address those concerns. Their service was up for over a year, and they didn't obtain the proper licenses for it. It's a bit disingenuous for them to say the lawsuit was unexpected."

Representatives of Launch declined comment in light of the pending legal action.