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Extending the battle between music labels and electronic music distribution services, MP3.com Inc. was hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit Tuesday by EMusic.com Inc. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan by EMusic.com and six of its independent record label partners, contends that MP3.com purchased its CD recordings without permission. MP3.com allegedly “copied these CD recordings onto its Internet servers for the purpose of offering the My.MP3.com service to the users of the service,” EMusic of Redwood City, Calif., contends in the complaint. The plaintiffs are seeking a court order prohibiting MP3.com from operating My.MP3.com or any other service that uses EMusic’s recordings. They also are asking for damages provided under federal copyright law, which can amount to $150,000 per violation. The complaint lists six songs — each owned by the six plaintiffs — that were allegedly copied by MP3.com. In addition, the plaintiffs reserved the right to add to the list in the future. MP3.com didn’t return phone calls seeking comment. This latest suit comes on the heels of a settlement two months ago between San Diego-based MP3.com and the five major recording labels — Universal Music Group, EMI Group, Sony Music Group, BMG Entertainment and Warner Music Group. After a federal judge declared it violated numerous copyrights in September, MP3.com settled with Universal Music for $53.4 million. Then, it reopened its service that allows consumers to store their music on MP3.com’s servers and access the content from any Web-enabled computer. “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,” EMusic president and chief executive officer, Gene Hoffman, said in a statement. Emusic has exclusive rights to approximately 13,000 albums from more than 600 record labels and distributes the music to consumers on a pay-per-track or on a monthly subscription basis. Representing Emusic.com and the independent labels is New York law firm Morgan & Finnegan LLP and Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich LLP of Palo Alto, Calif. Copyright (c)2000 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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