Judge Limits MP3.com's Exposure to Damages

Online music site MP3.com Inc. ducked one blow in its court fight over copyright with the recording industry when a federal judge issued an opinion limiting its damages for infringement, according to published reports.

In a pretrial opinion, U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff wrote Wednesday that damages in the case would be tallied based on each compact disc used without permission, rather than each song, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Since CDs generally have between 10 to 13 songs on them, MP3.com faces lower damages. MP3.com features over 424,000 songs by close to 70,000 artists on its Web site, having used some 80,000 CDs in the effort. The site offers some songs for free and charges for others.

A key issue in the suit is the MyMP3.com service, which allows users to "register" their own CDs and then access the songs online from the MP3.com database. The Recording Industry Association of America Inc. (RIAA) was seeking US$150,000 for each major label-owned musical track in MP3.com's database.

MP3.com could have owed the RIAA up to $120 billion dollars before Rakoff's opinion.

MP3.com has settled suits with all the major recording labels involved in the case, except Seagram Co. Ltd.'s Universal Music Group. The trial is scheduled to begin Monday in Manhattan federal court.

MP3.com is in San Diego and can be reached at +1-858-623-7000 or at http://www.mp3.com. The RIAA is on the Web at http://www.riaa.org/.

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