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MP3.COM WINS ONE

Lawsuit Against Netco, Record Labels Dismissed By Judge "Dread" Rakoff
A federal judge Wednesday (12/6) dismissed a lawsuit against MP3.com and four major record labels, saying the musician plaintiffs seeking online royalties do not own the digital rights to the songs in question.

The suit—filed in U.S. District Court by the Chambers Brothers, The Coasters and The Original Drifters—claimed that MP3.com, Time Warner and units of Seagram, Bertelsmann and Sony did not have the right to transmit their tunes over the Net via MP3.com.

But Judge Jed Rakoff dismissed the claim and said the artists forfeited their rights when they signed contracts with the labels in the 1950s and 1960s.

The complaint argued that the artists' respective recording contracts with those labels did not grant the companies the right to sell or authorize sale of digital versions of their performances on the Internet.

The complaint sought class-action status on behalf of other artists who made albums before Dec. 31, 1995, when the Digital Performance Rights in Sound Recording Act went into effect. Prior to that date, "there were absolutely no performance rights for holders of...sound recording copyrights, either in analog or digital form," according to the complaint.

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