The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today sued MP3.com Inc., claiming that the company's online digital music service infringes on valuable copyrights held by record labels and artists.
MP3.com's Beam-it service allows users to store digital versions of CDs that they own at MP3.com's Web site, and then listen to them from a PC or portable audio player. A similar service called Instant Listening provides users with access to CDs that were recently purchased at online stores.
The copyright infringement lawsuit, filed today in U.S. District Court in New York, seeks to prevent MP3.com from marketing the services, an RIAA spokeswoman said.
"The foundation on which these services are built is an unauthorized digital archive with the most popular and valuable copyrighted sound recordings in the world -- music that is not owned by MP3.com," Cary Sherman, the RIAA's executive vice president and general counsel, saidin a statement issued today.
MP3.com created the archive without attempting to get permission from record labels or recording artists, and has therefore committed a "blatant infringement of rights," according to Sherman.
In a statement issued this afternoon, MP3.com denied any wrongdoing.
"Although we haven't had an opportunity to review the complaint, we plan to defend this suit vigorously through the courts. We have every intention of fighting this to the court of last resort, if necessary," Michael Robertson, MP3.com's chief executive officer, said in the statement.
The Beam-it software on MP3.com's Web site asks users to verify that they have purchased a song in CD form before they can download a digital version of it.
The RIAA asserts that the verification process is inadequate.
"That's what they ask -- but there's no way to prove it," said Kerry Driver, a spokeswoman with the RIAA's public relations firm.
MP3.com's shares on the Nasdaq stock market closed at US$29.6 down $2 from yesterday's close.
The RIAA is an industry group representing record companies based in the U.S.
MP3.com, in San Diego, can be reached at +1-858-558-9390, and on the Web at http://www.mp3.com/. The RIAA is on the Web at http://www.riaa.org/.