Sides reach compromise, licensing agreement

Embattled online music downloading company MP3.com and perf rights org Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) have reached a licensing agreement.

Announced late Friday afternoon, agreement will allow users of MP3.com to play the BMI repertoire of more than 4.5 million songs via the MP3.com Web site.

“This is a monumental day for MP3.com, BMI, songwriters, publishers and the Internet as a whole,” MP3.com prexy Robin Richards said in a prepared statement. “BMI demonstrated today that they are indeed an industry leader and also that BMI has the vision to usher in and embrace responsible new technologies that will catapult the industry into the coming century. MP3.com thanks BMI for this opportunity.”

Representatives for BMI, which represents more than 140,000 U.S. songwriters and composers as well as more than 60,000 U.S. publishers, were unavailable for comment.

Expect further olive branches from MP3.com, which has been in talks with reps from virtually all the major record labels in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling last week that the online operator violated copyright law (Daily Variety, May 1).

Although that suit was brought by the Recording Industry Assn. of America (RIAA), which represents the five major record groups, the RIAA cannot negotiate on behalf of these groups collectively because such action would violate antitrust laws.

On the Nasdaq Friday, MP3.com shares dropped 5.68% to close at $10.38.

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