The top legal official of the RIAA has warned a House panel that as interactive digital radio hits the marketplace, the record industry could face near-obliteration if content protections aren't incre

WASHINGTON -- The top legal official of the RIAA has warned a House panel that as interactive digital radio hits the marketplace, the record industry could face near-obliteration if content protections aren't increased under the copyright law.

Appearing July 15 before the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, RIAA general counsel Steven M. Marks cited the dangers of new-generation digital radio receiver/recorders that can "cherry-pick" and redistribute music tracks.

He asked Congress to shore up content protections granted in the Digital Performance Right Act of 1995. At that time, noninteractive services like Webcasts and broadcasts did not pose dangers of automated copying. The new receiver/recorders about to be rolled out can change all that, he said.

"The unrestricted copying, disaggregation and redistribution of digital transmission programs threatens to turn noninteractive services, like Webcasts and broadcasts, into the equivalent of on-demand interactive services," Marks told lawmakers.

"As broadcasters switch to digital broadcasting," he testified, "we fear that we are on the verge of devastation to the industry that will dwarf the harm wrought by the peer-to-peer piracy problems of the last several years."