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AOL.de found liable for online music piracy

Plans to appeal Bavarian state court's decision

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A German company is demanding around $50,000 in damages after a court found America Online liable for online music piracy. A Bavarian state court in Munich yesterday ruled in favour of Hit Box Software and said ISP AOL was responsible for letting people swap bootleg music files on its service. Hit Box lawyer Stefan Ventroni said the ruling would help protect musicians against illegal use of their tunes on the Web. "With this verdict, they can demand that such Internet pages be blocked," he said. AOL plans to appeal. The US company claimed it had acted to stop the forum as soon as it discovered what was happening, and that it was unable to track all of its Internet traffic. "Total control of all pages on our servers is technically almost impossible," a representative for AOL Germany said. "Also, that would amount to censorship." Karlsruhe-based Hit Box's concerns centred around three instrumental versions of pop songs that were downloaded for free more than 1,000 times via AOL. The tunes, including a karaoke-intended version of "Get Down" by the Backstreet Boys, normally cost up to $15 on a CD. The company demanded 100,000 marks ($50,000) in damages, but judges put off a ruling on the size of the award, the Associated Press reported. A representative for Gema, Germany's main music licensing group, said: "The Internet is not a lawless space…Right now, the rights of creative artists are being trampled on in the Internet." ® Related Stories AOL beats back Freeserve ad complaints Saudi prince takes $1bn AOL stake AOL mops up Bertelsmann stake

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