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MP3.com returns to copyright court

No deal with Universal - yet

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MP3.com was back in court yesterday, having failed to secure a settlement with Universal over its violation of the major music label's copyrights.

Back in April, MP3.com was found guilty of distributing music from Universal, Sony, BMG, EMI and Warner - the world's 'big five' record labels - without permission. Since then, it has paid Warner, BMG, EMI and most recently Sony through the nose - analysts reckon the figure is around $20 million per label - for the rights to distribute their material and to settle out of court.

Last week, the original copyright trial judge, Jed S Rackoff, imposed a limitation on the level of damages MP3.com must pay, but with Universal the only remaining plaintiff, observers doubted whether MP3.com would have to face the court again.

Yesterday, however, it did, as the procedure by which the damages the company must pay are to be reckoned was begun.

That said, both MP3.com and Universal believe a deal can be reached before it becomes necessary for the judge to impose a penalty upon MP3.com. The current trial is set to determine the degree to which MP3.com's infringement of the labels' copyrights was wilful. Inadvertent copyright infringement draws a lesser penalty than deliberate violation. ®

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