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Judge rules against MP3.com
The question of copyright liability has been answered
By Stewart Blake - 24th October 2000 - Back to News
Tell us your opinion See what others have saidU.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled that MP3.com wilfully violated copyright laws. Judge Rakoff said he would fine the company $25,000 foreach CD it copied from Universal, a punishment that could yield a total fine of as much as $250 million. The fine is to be set at a hearing in November, after the judge determines the total number of violations.
MP3.com, seeking new revenue, launched the My.MP3.com service, that allowed users to listen to famous artists. The company bought thousands of CDs, made copies of them and stored them on servers. Users would login and demonstrate that they owned a copy of the album, and have access to the music whenever they liked.
In April Judge Rakoff agreed with the five major music labels thatMP3.com was liable for infringing copyrights by the My.MP3.com service, leaving open until last week the question of whether those violations were wilful.
In recent months, MP3.com cut deals with EMI Group, BMG Entertainment, Time Warner Music Group and Sony Music. Terms of those settlements were not disclosed, but they reportedly involved payments of about $20million per company. Universal, the last of the five major labels involved in the suit, declined to settle, and Judge Rakoff's ruling.
In an order dated July 31, 2000, Judge Rakoff denied Universal's motion to have the statutory damages in this case computed on a "per song" rather than "per-CD" basis, lowering the total amount of infringed works. That ruling is available here
As for DVD...
Judge rules against posting or linking to DeCSS
New York District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that hacker publication
2600.com could not publish a software program dubbed DeCSS, which allows
DVD movies to be decoded and played on personal computers. Judge Kaplan
ruled that posting the code, or even just linking to direct downloads of
the program, violates copyright law.
Judge Kaplan rejected as baseless 2600's defense that computer code is
protected by the First Amendment as free speech. Judge Kaplan said that
code can be used as a political or artistic statement, but using it to
violate copyright law is illegal.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sued 2600 publisher
Eric Corley and several other site operators that posted the software or
its source code, contending that they were violating copyright law by
helping propagate an illegal program.
The bar against hyperlinks is seen by many free speech advocates as
blocking of Web expression. Corley attorney said he would appeal to the
As to the effect of the ruling, 2600 sites states correctly:
"Looking for a copy of DeCSS?
The easiest way is to go to Disney's search engine and search for DeCSS.
They will then LINK you to thousands of sites, something we're no longer
allowed to do. It's possible we may not even be allowed to tell you this!"
Information source: The Cyberlaw Informer
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