McCartney's firm sues MP3.com

A music-rights firm owned by the former Beatle has filed a copyright infringement suit against the music Web site
Written by Margaret Kane, Contributor

A music-rights firm owned by former Beatle Paul McCartney has filed suit against MP3.com, claiming the music Web site is violating copyrights on six songs it owns.

The suit involves MP3.com's MyMP3 service, which allows consumers to play music over the Web from CDs they already own. Users "beam" copies of their CDs to the company, which then allows them to download and play those songs from any PC.

In the suit, McCartney's firm, MPL Communications, alleges MP3 isn't actually sending users the stored copy of their own CD, but is instead sending them an illegally copied version that the company made. Another music-rights firm, Peer International, is also part of the legal challenge.

"Defendant has copied sound recordings of plaintiff's copyrighted works from CDs onto its computer servers and is making digital phonorecord deliveries of those compositions to consumers over the Internet," the suit says. "Defendant neither sought nor obtained any license or other authorization from plaintiffs to make such copies or digital phonorecord deliveries of their copyrighted works."

MP3.com target of lawsuits MPL is asking the court to remove the songs from MP3.com's servers and seeks damages of $150,000 for each infringement.

MP3.com is no stranger to lawsuits. The Recording Industry Association of America filed suit against the company in January, citing the same feature.

And McCartney has experience suing computer-related companies. The Beatles holding company, Apple Corps, sued Apple Computer over rights to use the name. The dispute was settled out of court.

'Virtual CD player' and musicians' rights After being sued by the RIAA, MP3.com CEO Michael Robertson argued that his company's service "is nothing more than a virtual CD player. It is a new and innovative technology that lets people listen to their music. We have every intention of fighting ... efforts to dictate the way people can use their music."

The company had no comment.

A spokesman for MPL said that while the company is owned by McCartney, the suit does not directly involve him as a musician.

"This is not Paul McCartney taking on MP3. This is not about Paul McCartney's music. It's about protecting the rights of writers who have deals with MPL," said Paul Freundlich, spokesman for McCartney and MPL.

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