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Emusic.com, Independent Record Labels File Complaint Against MP3.com

Just when it seemed beleaguered music service provider MP3.com had broken free of the copyright and intellectual property disputes that plagued it for a year, independent music labels are uniting against it to file their own infringement charges against the company.

Emusic.com yesterday said that it and several of its independent record label partners have filed copyright infringement complaints against MP3.com and its My.MP3.com streaming audio service.

A complaint has been filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

“Although MP3.com has entered into settlement agreements with the five major record labels, they have chosen to ignore their infringing actions with respect to independent record labels,” said Gene Hoffman, president/CEO of Emusic.

Emusic claims the intellectual property rights to 13,000 albums from 600 different labels, although it is unable at this time to determine the extent of alleged infringement by MP3.com.

Fearless Records, Fuel 2000 Records, Gig Records, Invisible Records, SpinART Records and Victory Records are the first to join the complaint. Emusic expects many of its other partner labels will follow.

The lawsuit by Emusic and its partner labels is drawn on a short rope behind Unity Entertainment Corp.'s class-action copyright infringement lawsuit.

Unity's lawsuit, announced Nov. 16, came just two days after MP3.com announced a $53.4 million settlement with Seagram's Universal Music Group, which essentially ended its dispute with the Recording Industry Association of America.

Also yesterday, MP3.com announced an agreement to provide PETCO Animal Supplies Inc.'s retail stores with music.

The agreement calls for MP3.com to provide PETCO's 530 retail stores with a Web-based music and messaging service. All stores are scheduled to have the service operational early next year. PETCO said it believes the move serves to reduce overall estimated costs for in-store music and audio advertising.

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