MP3Board Files Countersuit Against RIAA

BOSTON (07/19/2000) - MP3Board Inc. filed a countersuit against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on Tuesday in U.S. federal court seeking a remedy for RIAA's alleged role in temporarily shutting down MP3Board's Web site.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, also asks the court to determine whether it is a violation of copyright laws for a company to provide hyperlinks to publicly accessible Web sites where users can download files protected by copyright laws.

MP3Board officials contend that providing such links does not violate copyright law, which is why the company filed a similar suit in California. The RIAA requested on July 10 that the court dismiss that suit. Whether in California or New York, the RIAA doesn't care for MP3Board's technology.

"It appears they are environmentalist," said Amy Weiss, an RIAA spokeswoman.

"They are a recyclist of false allegations. They can choose new cities to file in, but it will not change the facts. What they are doing is copyright infringement, plain and simple."

The suit filed in New York states that the MP3Board.com site assists Internet users in locating music-related Web sites, pages and files, including MP3 files, but that it does not store any MP3 files on its Web site.

"The ratio of legal to illegal music files pointed to by MP3Board's automated links mirrors the state of the Internet as a whole," said MP3Board's attorney Ira Rothken said in a statement on MP3Board's Web site. "It is up to the RIAA and its members to take steps to shift the legal music file ratio in their favor -- rather than attacking MP3Board which has no MP3 files, they should be going after the entities that house the actual files ... mere linking alone, arising out of automated processes, is not direct or contributory copyright infringement."

RIAA members, such as Sony Music Entertainment and Time Warner Inc., filed a suit in Manhattan District Court in late June against MP3Board seeking to block the Web site from linking its users to sites where pirated files are available.

Before filing the suit, the RIAA had sent cease-and-desist letters to MP3Board since October 1999, asking that the site be shut down or face legal action.

In early June, MP3Board filed its own suit in a federal court in northern California that mirrors the one filed this week in New York. In a phone interview Wednesday, Rothken said that his client's suit filed in New York seeks to send all the litigation back to northern California.

Rothken said MP3Board's site was down for a week in April of this year after its host client, AboveNet Communications Inc. in San Jose, California, ended service to MP3Board site. The RIAA was strong-arming AboveNet, which is a subsidiary of Metromedia Fiber Networks Inc., Rothken said.

Carol Nash, a spokeswoman for Metromedia Fiber Networks, could not be reached for comment. A phone message to Weiss regarding the matter was not immediately returned.

"To have five days' lack of momentum is damaging," he said.

Rothken said the suit does not specify damages; rather, he said they should be based on the evidence presented.

MP3Board, in Santa Cruz, California can be reached at http://www.mp3board.com/.

RIAA, in Washington, D.C., can be reached at +1-202-775-0101 or at http://www.riaa.com/.

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