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Judge explains his ruling against MP3

Industry Standard

May 8, 2000
Web posted at: 9:23 a.m. EDT (1323 GMT)

(IDG) -- Six days after handing down a partial-summary judgment holding MP3.com guilty of copyright violation against the recording industry, N.Y. District Judge Jed Rakoff has issued a 10-page statement explaining his decision.

"The complex marvels of cyberspatial communication may create difficult legal issues," Rakoff said, "but not in this case."

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The judge's ruling came in response to the recording industry's successful legal attack against MP3.com's personalized service, My.MP3.com. With software called Beam-it, My.MP3.com subscribers can pop a physical CD into their disc drives and have digital copies instantly appear in their music collections.

MP3.com gets the digital copy from its database of 80,000 predigitized CDs, many of which belong to the major music labels. The record companies allege that copying and distributing their CDs is unlawful.

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In his report, Rakoff dismissed MP3.com's claim that giving the consumer a digital version of a CD was simply a "functional equivalent" of storing user CDs for members.

"In actuality, the defendant is re-playing for the subscribers converted versions of the recordings it copied, without authorization from the plaintiff's copyrighted CDs," Rakoff wrote.

Rakoff also disagreed with MP3.com's contention that copying the CDs from its database is permissible under the fair-use doctrine, which sometimes is used to justify the reproduction of copyrighted works or portions of those works for special circumstances, like education. The fact that MP3.com copied works in their entirety for commercial purposes, wrote Rakoff, ruled out application of the fair-use doctrine.

MP3.com President Robin Richards said the judge's opinions came as no surprise. After last week's ruling, Richards said, he knew what to expect.

"The mood continues to be strong here," says Richards. "We haven't lost anybody due to resignation."

He maintains that MP3.com will try to negotiate a settlement with the recording industry.

"We'll work our way through this," Richards said.




RELATED STORIES:
Can MP3.com survive the lawsuits?
February 2, 2000
Analysis: Why the RIAA sued MP3.com
January 26, 2000
RIAA CEO talks about legal proceedings against MP3.com and Napster
May 3, 2000

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
Will MP3.com survive?
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MP3.com loses to the recording industry
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MP3.com violates copyrights, court says
(PC World)
Meet the men behind the MP3 format
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MP3 and you: Know your rights
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RELATED SITES:
MP3.com, Inc.

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