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Tom Waits dogs MP3.com for $40m

Him and Randy Newman rain on file sharer's parade

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Tom Waits, Randy Newman and the Wilson sisters from Heart are suing online music site MP3.com over its file swapping system. They want $40.5 million.

How come? The old copyright breaking by allowing people to exchange songs thang. The artists want $150,000 for each song that is illegally available and that comes to a grand total of $40.5 million.

What makes this interesting is that MP3.com has come up with a method to restrict pirates, and also achieved an agreement with the music industry that managed to turn Napster into a worrying granny (basically, it pays them money).

So why is ole Rain Dog Waits wading in? Because although the music industry has decided that MP3.com's method of asking for someone to slip the relevant CD into your computer before the song is made available is just fine with them, songwriters that have managed to retain the copyright to their own songs are not so impressed. They haven't come to an agreement and they don't see any cash.

And by definition, these are the people who can't really afford to see their songs copied everywhere for free. Seeing as the whole world now seems to think the idea of the Internet as an antidote to capitalist obsession is just plain silly, we suppose we ought to come out in favour of the talented musicians. After all, we should be encouraging people that can actually write lyrics and play music (there are still a few).

The artists' lawyer seems to think the same thing. Bruce Van Dalsem said: "More successful songwriters of this calibre need to stand up against copyright infringement in order to protect their own rights, and discourage the theft of music written by lesser-known artists who cannot afford to protect their smaller catalogues of work." ®

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