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In the latest legal salvo over peer-to-peer file-sharing software, MusicCity.com Inc. is requesting a Los Angeles federal court to find that it is not liable for contributory copyright infringement. In October, eight movie studios and 20 record labels sued MusicCity.com, Grokster Ltd. and Consumer Empowerment BV, claiming that, like Napster Inc., the companies were providing the means for contributory and vicarious infringement. In its motion for adjudication, which was being filed on Tuesday, MusicCity.com claims that its software is protected under the Sony Betamax case ( Universal City Studios, Inc. et al. v. Sony Corporation of America Inc. et al.), in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Betamax videocassette recorder did not infringe copyright since it was capable of substantial non-infringing uses. Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who is part of MusicCity’s legal team, said his client is no more responsible for how its product is used than “Kodak or Xerox should be responsible for every infringing copy made by their machines.” Von Lohmann also distinguished MusicCity from Napster. Whereas Napster provided a centralized file indexing service, he said MusicCity solely provides software. Emily Kutner, a spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Association of America, said it was a “funny precedent” for the EFF to issue a press release before filing its motion with the court. “We have not seen hide nor hair of the papers so we can’t comment,” she said. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster Ltd., 01-8541, is pending in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles before Judge Stephen Wilson.

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