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Bertelsmann AG has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by a music publisher over the German media conglomerate’s one-time role as investor in the now-defunct Napster Inc. file-sharing service. In its lawsuit, Bridgeport Music Inc. and its affiliated record companies claimed Bertelsmann knew about the unauthorized, free sharing of music over the Napster service but still loaned the operation $85 million in cash between 2000 and 2001. The settlement, announced Wednesday, covers Bridgeport’s legal fees, the company’s attorney, Richard Busch, said in a statement. Bertelsmann spokeswoman Liz Young in New York said the company was pleased to settle the matter. Bertelsmann, however, still faces lawsuits from Universal Music Group, EMI Music and the members of a proposed class of music publishing companies over its Napster loan. The recording and music publishing companies also claim they’re entitled to damages from Bertelsmann and Napster’s other major funder, Hummer Winblad. Napster went off-line in 2001 and has since been reborn as a licensed online music store under new ownership. Southfield, Mich.-based Bridgeport also sued Hummer Winblad, which invested $13 million in Napster, but the court dismissed that suit in November on grounds the statute of limitations on legal action had expired. Bertelsmann, which owns a 50 percent stake in the Sony BMG Music Entertainment record company joint venture formed last year, has not entered into settlement talks with the other plaintiffs, Young said Thursday. The pending lawsuits are in pretrial stages before U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in San Francisco, said R. Bruce Rich, Bertelsmann’s attorney. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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