Music publishers association sues file-sharing services

Wednesday, November 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Two songwriters have sued and two other companies for copyright infringement, claiming that software distributed by the businesses lets users trade music over the Internet without authorization.

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the duo that wrote ``Jailhouse Rock,'' filed the class action suit in U.S. District Court on Monday on behalf of more than 20,000 music publishers. The suit names MusicCity Networks Inc., Grokster Ltd. and Consumer Empowerment BV as defendants

The companies are accused of ``facilitating, materially contributing to, and encouraging wholesale infringement of the world's most popular songs,'' according to the complaint.

``This lawsuit seeks to protect the rights of music creators from flagrant piracy,'' said Edward Murphy, president of the National Music Publishers' Association. ``As the legitimate market for online music develops, however, it is also about fundamental fairness to the music services that wish to comply with the law by taking licenses.''

Franklin, Tennessee-based MusicCity distributes a software program called Morpheus which taps into an online network of hundreds of thousands of users trading music, movies and software files.

Unlike Napster, whose users logged onto the company's central servers, Morpheus is more of a pure peer-to-peer program, which eliminates the need for central servers and routes users directly into its online community.

Amsterdam-based Consumer Empowerment BV, also known as FastTrack, developed the file-sharing software licensed to MusicCity and similar technology distributed by Grokster. Grokster operates from the island of Nevis in the West Indies.

None of the companies being sued responded to phone calls and e-mails from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The same three companies were also sued on Oct. 2 by several record labels and movie studios over software they called the ``next Napster'' for its ability to network users willing to trade files without authorization.

The suit filed by music publishers Monday a permanent injunction against and damages of dlrs 150,000 for each infringed work.