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U.S. District Court Judge John Martin ruled that UMG’s failure to conform to the provisions of the statute "forecloses the possibility of a compulsory license" and without a negotiated license, makes creating and distribution of the records "acts of infringement."

SONGWRITERS STRIKE WHILE THE IRONY IS HOT

Music Publishers Get Big Win in UMG Copyright Infringement Case
A federal judged ruled Wednesday that Universal Music Group’s publishing rights license does not apply to Internet streaming services. Ironically, this could mean that UMG, which sued MP3.com for copyright infringement via its streaming audio element, might be liable for copyright infringement damages via its now defunct Farmclub.com streaming service.

Though UMG argued that licenses obtained from Harry Fox Agency, the National Music Publishers’ Association’s licensing arm, covered all music formats, publishers successfully contested that the licenses did not extend to use on Farmclub.

UMG’s secondary defense was that if the license was not broad enough to cover web streaming, the compulsory mechanical license would cover it.

Not so, according to U.S. District Court Judge John Martin.

Martin ruled that UMG’s failure to conform to the provisions of the statute "forecloses the possibility of a compulsory license" and without a negotiated license, makes creating and distribution of the records "acts of infringement."

The NMPA alleges that so far, 23 songs were infringed, but has yet to put a specific dollar amount on the damages—maximum statutory damages are $150,000 per infringed work. UMG said in a statement that it intends to appeal the judgment.

The NMPA filed suit against UMG in December 2000 after asking the music group to remove songs from the Farmclub.com website, after its October 2000 launch. However, negotiations broke down. UMG closed Farmclub in May 2001, but claim the closure was not related to the suit.

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