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Tuesday, 12 September, 2000, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Britney label joins MP3 fray
Britney Spears
Britney Spears' Jive label is part of the Zomba group
Music company Zomba, which is behind Britney Spears' Jive label, is suing online music distributor MP3.com.

The company, which is the world's largest independent music group, is bringing the action against the popular music-swapping website for alleged copyright infringement.

Zomba, which is based in New York and London, will follow in the footsteps of the world's largest music company, Universal, which won a court case against MP3.com last week.

A federal US judge ordered MP3.com to pay punitive damages of up to $250m (177m) to Universal for unlawfully copying its CDs onto the My.MP3.com service.

Zomba
Zomba alleges "wilful copyright infringement" against MP3.com
Joint action

Two divisions of the Zomba Group, Zomba Recording Corporation and Zomba Music Publishing, are bringing the action against MP3.com, which is based in San Diego.

"MP3.com has adopted a blatant strategy of attempting to unlawfully build a business by misappropriating us and our artists' and writers' goodwill, recordings and songs," a Zomba statement said.

Aside from Britney Spears, other artists represented by Zomba's Jive label include Backstreet Boys, Steps, 'N Sync and R. Kelly.

In April, US District Judge Jed Rakoff had ruled that the My.MP3.com database of 80,000 albums had broken copyright law.

Paul Simon
Paul Simon singles could be released first on the internet
The service lets users copy albums onto the database using the compressed MP3 format. They can then listen to it from any computer, without having to insert the original CD.

MP3.com then settled with recording giants Warner Bros, Sony Music, BMG and EMI.

Universal, however, insisted on a trial.

Before last week's judgement, a lawyer for MP3.com had called any fine above $5m (3.5m) a virtual "death sentence" for the company.

MP3.com is appealing against the decision.

Napster usage quadruples

Another beleaguered music-swapping service, Napster, had good news on Monday when an independent internet research company found usage had quadrupled in five months.

Use of Napster software rocketed to 4.9m US home users in July, from 1.1m in February, the first month usage of the application was monitored.

The software allows users to copy digital music files from the hard drives of other users over the internet.

Napster claims a total of 28m people have downloaded its program. A US judge recently ruled to close its service down, saying it could violate musicans' copyright. A higher court suspended the closure pending an appeal.

Warner Music Group, meanwhile, is teaming up with software outfit RealNetworks to distribute music over the internet.

They will offer new singles and "internet-only" tracks from artists such as Paul Simon and Barenaked Ladies, on web retailing sites.

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See also:

06 Sep 00 | Business
MP3.com told to pay $250m
01 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Ready, Aimster, Swap
31 Aug 00 | Business
Napster ban for students
28 Jul 00 | Business
MP3.com settles with EMI
22 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
MP3.com agrees Sony damages
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