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Some insiders feel that the jury's small award — a big win for the dot-com after giant payouts to the major labels — may have incensed Judge Jed Rakoff, whose previous decisions to hand multimillion-dollar awards to plaintiffs against MP3.com look disproportion-
ately large by comparison.

MP3.COM VS. TVT: UPDATE

After Both Sides Spin Friday's Decision, Report Of "Huge Error" Kicks Up New Dust
The admittedly small cloud of dust surrounding Friday's decision that MP3.com must pay TVT Records about $300,000 in damages for copyright infringement has barely settled—and now that decision is said to be in question.

As was initially reported in Webnoize, attorneys for both sides have been summoned to appear once more in court this afternoon. The report attributes a source at TVT for the assertion that a "huge error" had been made with respect to the judgment.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, has reported that a court clerk charged the eight-person jury erred in adding up the individual infringements and that the total should have been a comparatively whopping $3 million.

Neither side offered an official comment by presstime, though their respective spins are anticipated later today. But some insiders feel that the jury's small award—a big win for the dot-com after giant payouts to the major labels—may have incensed Judge Jed Rakoff, whose previous decisions to hand multimillion-dollar awards to plaintiffs against MP3.com look disproportionately large by comparison. Rakoff, perceived by many as an implacable foe of the netco, may believe the jury didn't understand the severity of the infringement when it awarded the minimum.

Both sides of the dispute confirm that Judge Rakoff met with seven of eight jurors today; it remains unknown who would be held responsible if indeed the original award was off by a power of ten, but chatter about a possible mistrial has already begun around the water coolers of the digital-music world. A decision is expected soon.

Friday's decision was the result of a lawsuit TVT Records filed about a year ago, accusing MP3.com of unlawfully using TVT copyrights on its music service.

Nor surprisingly, given the verdict and the relatively modest award, both sides claimed victory in the case and MP3.com said it would appeal the decision.

"We prevailed," TVT founder Steve Gottlieb told everyone. "If they're going to be good corporate citizens going forward, they should learn to respect intellectual property. We're pleased we resolved this ... issue." Gottlieb, who denied that interest in these lawsuits was waning, then claimed that word of the ongoing litigation was "buzzing on the street."

But MP3.com's Greg Wilfahrt said TVT had been seeking as much as $8.5 million and the much smaller $300,000 award showed the jury was largely unconvinced by TVT's argument. "We believe this is a clear-cut victory for MP3, and we also look forward to having our argument brought before a different judge in the appellate court," he said, implicitly underlining the adversarial relationship between Rakoff and the netco.

Several other small label groups—notably Zomba, home of megastar-heavy Jive—are still awaiting their day in court with the besieged but resilient dot-com and are no doubt even more curious about today's development than we are.

Regardless of the outcome of this latest wrinkle, we're glad to know we're not the only ones to have to tell everybody we made a big boo-boo.

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