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Music publishers allege MP3.com copyright infringement

Lawsuit parallels RIAA's anti-'virtual CD player' suit

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Two music publishers have launched a joint lawsuit against MP3.com alleging that the digital music e-tailer's MyMP3.com service infringes their copyrights. The case, brought by music rights agancy Harry Fox on behalf of publishers MPL Communications and Peer International (operating as Peermusic), is the second copyright violation suit fired off at MP3.com since it launched MyMP3.com back in January. The latest case, like the Recording Industry Association of America's suite before it, centres on MP3.com's admission that it has copied over 80,000 CDs onto its servers to form the basis for the MyMP3.com 'virtual CD player' service. MPL and Peermusic claim that MP3.com did not seek permission to do so from either company, but has nevertheless included works by artists for whom they hold the copyright. The suit further alleges that MP3.com is using that database to "make unauthorised digital phonorecord deliveries... Despite written notice that its actions constitute copyright infringement, defendant has continued to make unauthorised copies of copyrighted musical works at the astonishing rate of 1500 additional CDs per day". So, in essence, there are two charges here, that MP3.com copied material without permission to do so and, second, that it then distributed those unauthorised copies illegally. MPL and Peermusic wants the court to force MP3.com to admit that it wilfully infringed the two companies' copyrights, to remove the copies from its servers and to cough up damages plus any money the company made out of offering their music through MyMP3.com. The suit describes statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each plaintiff. MP3.com has yet to respond directly to the suit, but it's unlikely to offer a different defence than that which it offered to the RIAA: that MyMP3.com doesn't infringe copyrights since it's simply providing a convenient way for users to listen to music they already own. And that's the crux of the matter: if party A makes a copy of CD B for party C, when C has a legal copy of B, does that still count as copyright infringement? Certainly, there's nothing to stop C copying the disc themseleves, posting the on a secure Web site so they can listen to it from any location - duplication of a copyrighted work for personal use is permitted under US copyright law. But that doesn't necessarily grant a third party, A, the right to maintain the online copies. ® Related Stories MP3.com countersues music industry trade body US music industry sues MP3.com over 'virtual CD player' See Also You can read the full text of the suit against MP3.com here

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