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Judge blocks AOL’s 6.0

Injunction requires AOL to remove PlayMedia music software

A federal judge has blocked online giant AOL from distributing its AOL 6.0 browser program, which contains program that plays music made by PlayMedia Systems.

The injunction also requires AOL to remove the music software by means of a “live update” and to notify all users of the injunction.

U.S. District Court Judge Howard Matz on Monday granted a preliminary injunction sought by PlayMedia, which is claiming copyright infringement by AOL.

The injunction applies to an older version of AOL’s Web browser software. The company has recently released AOL 7.0, from which the music software has been deleted. But AOL 6.0 is currently is use by more than 10 million customers.

Respect required

PlayMedia’s attorney Henry Gradstein said, “The irony of this case is that AOL claims to support strong protection of intellectual property rights, yet the court’s opinion suggests that AOL did not respect the intellectual property rights of PlayMedia.” PlayMedia also was represented by Gradstein’s partner Bruce Van Dalsem, both of Gradstein, Luskin & Van Dalsem.

AOL’s attorney Michael Zeller said he had not yet seen the order and could not comment.

As outlined in the court’s order, Los Angeles-based PlayMedia markets a popular MP3 audio decoding engine known as AMP. PlayMedia licensed AMP to Nullsoft for use in conjunction with Nullsoft’s product Winamp, a well-known music player for personal computers. AMP was to be sublicensed by Nullsoft for use in conjunction with Winamp only.

AOL purchased Nullsoft, took AMP out of Winamp and put it into the AOL 6.0 media player, a use for which it allegedly was not licensed.

AOL argues

AOL admitted it had copied PlayMedia’s software, but claimed it was permitted to do so under the licensing agreement between PlayMedia and Nullsoft.

AOL also argued that complying with an injunction would cost it millions of dollars.

The court concluded that AOL did exceed the Nullsoft license. In issuing the injunction, Matz ordered AOL to stop distributing AOL 6.0 and to prevent AOL users from using AMP online by means of an AOL online “live update,” which will automatically remove the software from users’ copies of AOL 6.0.

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