Record labels plan to sue MP3.com – again

Sob! Wail! But Universal got more than us...

Are the world's leading recording companies a bunch of spoiled, ungrateful, money-grabbing so-and-sos or what?

Having happily reached a settlement with MP3.com over its unlawful use of music they own, they are now considering re-suing the online venture because they now know they would have done better had they stuck to their legal guns.

The one company that held out and refused to compromise with MP3.com, Universal, was last week awarded damages of $53.4 million. Universal's fellow 'big fivers' - EMI, Sony, Warner and BMG - all settled out-of-court for around $20 million apiece, less than half the Universal award.

According to Reuters, one of the four will launch fresh legal action against MP3.com to demand it coughs up a similar sum to the one it was forced to pay Universal. Reuters doesn't say which label intends to sue, preferring to cite simply "record executives", but it notes that a second suit may follow the close on the heels of the first. The initial suit could be filed this week, Reuters posits.

Of course, whether that represents a planned course of action or simply the rantings of an aggrieved music industry executive remains to be seen. It's hard to see EMI, Sony, BMG and/or Warner having much of a case. They agreed to settle on the negotiated terms - if they later become unhappy with that settlement, that's their problem.

And since their negotiators had the power of the law on their side - they'd won the case against MP3.com, after all - they were hardly likely to have unfair terms imposed upon them.

A complaint of unfair terms seems the only legal option open to the record companies - certainly, we'd imagine the statute of limitations would ensure they can't once more sue MP3.com for infringing the same copyrights it infringed before. ®

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