Old Hit-Makers vs. New Technology
The Coasters, Original Drifters, The Main Ingredient and The Chambers Brothers filed a lawsuit April13 in Manhattan federal court accusing MP3.com of violating their musical copyrights by allowing customers to download their songs from the company’s Web site.
The suit also seeks class-action status and names multimedia and recording giants Time Warner, Universal Music Group, Sony and BMG. The class-action would be on behalf of other artists who recorded before recent digital copyright laws were enacted.
Earlier this year, these same companies filed their own suit against MP3.com, claiming they own copyrights to the oldies music downloaded.
The bands filing the suit do the record industry suit one better: They say the copyrights in question, called sound recordings copyrights, didn’t exist prior to 1978 or digital CD technology.They claim the Internet transmission of their songs denies them royalty payments they are due under their record contracts.
“It should be fairly obvious that any record agreement made in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s was made for records [only],” not the Internet,” the bands’ attorney, Lawrence Feldman, told Bloomberg business news.
The suit is just one of several facing MP3.com and other online music distribution companies. The same day the oldies artists’ suit against MP3.com was filed, the band Metallica filed suit against MP3-swapping software company Napster and three universities.
And a federal judge heard arguments Friday in New York in yet another case against MP3.com, this time by the Recording Industry Association of America over the alleged distribution of 45,000 titles in violation of copyright.
Feldman added, “This is the first (case) where musicians have sued in their own name.
“Remember the musicians.”