Both Sides Claim Victory In TVT/MP3.com Ruling
A jury in New York ordered MP3.com on Friday to pay about $292,000 in copyright-infringement violations to TVT Records -- a decision that both the Web company and the label are claiming as a victory.A jury in New York ordered MP3.com on Friday to pay about $292,000 in copyright-infringement violations to TVT Records -- a decision that both the Web company and the label are claiming as a victory. The decision follows last month's summary judgment by U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff, who ruled that MP3.com willfully infringed upon TVT's copyrights with its MyMP3.com service.
Although Rakoff found MP3.com to be responsible for actual and statutory damages -- infringing on both the TVT master recordings and the compositions upon which those are based -- the jury awarded TVT relatively little compared to the $53.4 million MP3.com was ordered to pay in November for violating copyrights owned by Universal Music Group.
The jury awarded no actual damages, which TVT was seeking for about 50 of the 150 albums in question. For statutory damages, TVT received the legal minimum, $750, for many of the CDs; the law permits up to $150,000 per infringement.
The most the label received for any album was $50,000 for "Television's Greatest Hits." In the UMG case, which was not decided by a jury, Rakoff ordered MP3 to pay $25,000 per infringement.
"Obviously, we did not recover as much as we would have liked," TVT attorney Michael Elkin tells Billboard Bulletin. "Different juries will award certain amounts depending on who they are." TVT president Steve Gottlieb is "ecstatic" over the decision but thinks the jury was swayed by MP3.com's recent legal woes. "There were plenty of gold and platinum records in there," he says.
Noting the fact that MP3.com will not have to pay any actual damages, CEO/chairman Michael Robertson says, "It was a tremendous victory in spite of the fact that, obviously, there's a ruling against us." He says his company will appeal. MP3.com still faces suits by Zomba and EMusic.