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LOS ANGELES-Two key lawyers defending video-sharing Web sites in high-profile suits recently brought by Universal Music Group are well-versed in copyright infringement claims, having taken plaintiffs’ positions in previous cases with similar legal arguments. The turnabout highlights a trend in which Internet lawyers are beginning to represent clients on both sides of the copyright battles facing new technology companies, particularly after firms such as News Corp. and Google Inc. have gobbled up successful Web sites. “There was a time when lawyers were on one side or the other of the technology content divide,” said Laurence Pulgram, a partner in the San Francisco office of Fenwick & West who represented Napster in its high-profile litigation. Now, “the issues are increasingly less black and white and more shades of gray,” Pulgram noted. “You have competing issues for which good lawyers provide insights on either side of.” In October, Universal Music brought suits against two video-sharing sites, Bolt Inc. and Grouper Networks Inc., claiming that they violated the copyrights of several of its artists by posting their music for free. UMG Recordings Inc. v. Bolt Inc., No. 06-06577, and UMG Recordings Inc. v. Grouper Networks, No. 06-06561 (C.D. Calif.). The following month, Universal Music sued MySpace.com over similar claims. UMG Recordings Inc. v. MySpace Inc., No. 06-07361 (C.D. Calif.). All three sites have retained separate lawyers. Two of the attorneys-Dale Cendali, a partner in the New York office of O’Melveny & Myers who represents MySpace.com, and Ian Ballon, a shareholder in the Los Angeles office of Greenberg Traurig who represents Grouper-have backgrounds representing copyright holders in claims not unlike those brought by Universal Music. In November 2006, Grouper filed an answer disputing allegations by Universal Music that the Web site illegally uses copyrighted works in much the way that Napster and other file-sharing services did. Ballon is the copyright specialist in Grouper’s three-lawyer team at Greenberg Traurig. Ballon previously filed amicus briefs on behalf of dozens of copyright owners in the high-profile appellate litigation against file-sharing service Grokster. The case led to a groundbreaking ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that found that Grokster had induced infringement through its marketing practices. MGM v. Grokster, 545 U.S. 913 (2005). But Ballon noted that Grokster involved an industrywide claim against a “pirate” site, rather than a single company suing a “legitimate” company. “I do not represent pirate sites,” he said. “In all instances, I’m representing companies that respect copyrights.” Last month, MySpace filed a motion to dismiss one of the state claims from the case. Cendali leads a three-lawyer defense team for MySpace at O’Melveny & Myers. Cendali, who is chairwoman of the firm’s IP and technology practice, declined comment. Cendali has represented the Recording Industry Association of America and has filed suits for record companies against Audiogalaxy Inc. and several Internet service providers that supported Listen4ever.com.

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