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MP3.com Backs Copyright Office Inquiry

In a move to keep its primary legal issue in the public eye, MP3.com, Inc. has filed comments with the U.S. Copyright Office supporting a Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) request that the office conduct an inquiry regarding the application of the Copyright Act to the delivery of music over the Internet.

MP3.com's submission to the Copyright Office reflects the company's concern that current copyright law does not clearly or adequately address the interest of consumers in receiving music transmissions via the Internet.

MP3.com's comments ask the office to expand the scope of the proceeding requested by the RIAA. In particular, MP3.com's comments urge the office to consider whether Internet services that allow consumers to enjoy online performances of the CDs they have purchased are distinguishable from other music streaming and download services that may be liable for copyright royalty payments under current law. This differentiation has been at the bottom of the companys legal issues for the last year.

MP3.com's comments also ask the office to convene a "Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel" to determine the appropriate level of royalty fees, if any, payable by Internet music services when they deliver on-line performances of recorded music.

"Current copyright laws and regulations are simply incapable of dealing with new technologies and the dynamic innovations being spawned by the new economy and its consumers," said Robin Richards, MP3.com's president and chief operating officer.

"We must arrive at answers and solutions that accommodate the spectacular growth in technology and the products and services it generates," Richards said. "And, we must do it in a comprehensive way that protects and preserves fair competition and fair opportunities for the new economy entrepreneurs who have generated so much prosperity for millions of Americans.

"Frankly, it is likely that neither the Copyright Office nor the courts will be able to fully and satisfactorily resolve these complex and far reaching issues given the way current laws are structured. Congress should be encouraged to address the realities of the Internet sooner, rather than later."