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MP3.com Lands $45 Million Investment

Adding fuel to the online music fire, Cox Interactive Media Inc., a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Wednesday invested $45 million in MP3.com Inc., a site featuring music in the emerging digital format.

CIMedia specializes in providing local content on the Web, and is the online arm of Cox Enterprises, whose holdings include newspapers, broadcasting, cable television distribution and auto auctions.

MP3.com promotes the use of the Internet to access music for free. It provides more than 56,000 songs from 11,000 artists in a CD-quality compressed format that is faster to download than traditional sound files.

Along with the investment, the two companies plan to create a joint venture which will include the creation and operation of music-related Web sites. Also under terms of the investment, MP3.com appointed David Easterly, president of CIMedia to its board of directors.

With its stake in MP3.com, CIMedia propels itself into controversy surrounding the MP3 format. The music industry continues to clash with MP3.com and other digital download companies because of the technology's potential to infringe on music copyrights.