In what is set to be a landmark case, ten major record companies have come together to sue a music website, MP3.com for alleged copyright infringement.
The labels, which include Sony, BMG/RCA, Capitol, Warner Brothers and Arista, have united under the umbrella of the Recording Industry Association of America (the RIAA). They allege that the website has violated copyright with two new services that were introduced on January 12.
They are seeking damages running into billions of dollars.
The two services in question essentially allow internet users to access digital quality recordings of CDs they already own. The ‘Instant Listening Service’ and ‘Beat It’ services allow members to either purchase an album from an online retailer or register copies they already own by placing their album in their CD- Rom drive and beaming it to the MP3.com. Once the site recognises it, the listener can then access that album from anywhere.
The RIAA‘s case focuses on the fact that MP3.com illegally copied a library of some 45,000 albums to allow the process to work.
An indignant Michael Robertson, founder and chief executive of MP3.com, claimed the lawsuit to be an attempt at initimidation by a ‘cartel’ of record companies. He said he would fight it ‘to the court of last resort’ if necessary’.