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MP3Board.com's Defense: A Good Offense

MP3Board.com, which is being sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for alleged copyright infringement, is not going anywhere without a fight... and if it has its way, it won't go down alone.

According to court filings filed on Monday, lawyers for the music search engine argue that if their client is found guilty of copyright violation, then so should Time Warner and AOL .

Ira Rothken, Rothken Law Firm, filed suit in the Southern District of New York against AOL and Time Warner, accusing the media giants of contributing to online music piracy by making available a song-swapping software called Gnutella.

Ironically, MP3Board.com currently faces charges from Warner Brothers Records as well as other leading record labels and the RIAA. Rothken noted that the filing is part of the company's indemnity strategy.

"The Judge in the RIAA case gave us till yesterday to file our indemnity claim," Rothken said. "We have a good defense against the copyright infringement allegations. But, in a nutshell, while we are not saying that MP3Board.com has done anything unlawful, we are saying that if their actions are found to be unlawful, the blame has to be allocated to AOL and Time Warner for making Gnutella available.

"Gnutella is very much like Napster but with no central server," he added. "It was released by AOL last year and it allows music to be distributed from peer to peer."

In its filing, MP3Board asked the federal judge to make Time Warner and AOL co-defendants in the recording industry lawsuit and to make both companies liable for any damages MP3Board is ordered to pay if it loses the case.

Rich D'amato, a spokesperson for AOL, dismissed the charges as a "desperate" act.

"We have not seen the lawsuit or seen any confirmation that has actually been filed, so I cannot comment specifically," he said. "But, it would appear to be a lawsuit based more on desperation than it is on law."

The lawsuit is currently being argued on both coasts. According to Rothken a hearing is scheduled in the Federal Court of Northern District in California on September 1 to consolidate the proceedings in New York. An action is scheduled in New York for April 2001.

The filing comes on the heels of yet another development in a separate online copyright infringment case. MP3.com Inc. said on Monday it reached a settlement of a copyright infringement suit with Sony Music Entertainment that would allow the online music site to use the Japanese record label's music as part of its Internet-based service.

The settlement did not come cheap. MP3.com is expected to pay Sony roughly $20 million in damages to settle the suit, according to sources familiar with the case. It would also pay a fee each time a Sony CD is registered by a user and another fee each time a user accesses one of its songs.



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