Business offers to pull major label tracks from

Desperate 'damages limitation' excercise ahoy! yesterday said told the world's major record labels it would pull all of their tracks from its 'virtual Walkman' service if they wish.

The move is pretty much a bid to save the online music company from disastrous damages that could yet be imposed by the US court after the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) won its copyright infringement case against last week. has always proclaimed the legal validity of what it was doing, and given the arguably specious nature of the verdict against it, the company's desire to bend over backwards to settle up with the music industry suggests it would have a real problem appealing against the RIAA decision, let alone coping with any damages that might be imposed.

"Any new media device has faced legal challenges," company CEO Michael Robertson told investors. "We think the higher courts, which are more apt to make new law, will rule in our favor. [But] I cannot spend three years in court. We're very motivated to create a business resolution. We've been in talks for four weeks, and I'm cautiously optimistic for a resolution."

Of course, since has always been the prime flag waver of the MP3 format, it must be terribly tempting for the music corporates to use the verdict to crush the 'opposition', as it were. No doubt that's why Robertson is only 'cautiously optimistic'.

US District Court Judge Jed Rakoff will reconvene the parties on 28 August to determine damages. ®

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