You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

EMI joins battle against Bertelsmann

Coin given to Napster said to keep illegal service alive

EMI has joined Universal Music Group in the legal onslaught against Bertelsmann over its financial support of pioneering peer-to-peer purveyor Napster, and industry sources say Sony Music may consider jumping into the legal fray as well.

The British music major, home to such acts as the Beatles and Radiohead, filed suit for contributory copyright infringement in New York District Court, arguing that Bertelsmann provided crucial funding that kept Napster operating as a haven for illegal file swapping.

“But for the conduct of Bertelsmann, Napster would have been shut down and its users’ infringement would have ceased long before July 2001,” when a court injunction shuttered the system, the complaint said. “Bertelsmann shocked the industry by throwing Napster a financial lifeline specifically to ensure that the system did not shut down.”

$85 mil investment

Bertelsmann, whose own music division BMG was a party to the industry’s original infringement suit against Napster, invested roughly $85 million in the Netco in what the conglom said was an attempt to build a legal, subscription-based alternative to its free service.

But Universal and EMI contend in their suits that the money was actually used to keep the illegal service afloat, maintaining the Napster brand and presence in consumers’ minds while the company worked on its fee-based successor.

Bertelsmann declined to comment on the litigation.

Napster, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, has since sold its assets to media-software maker Roxio, which plans to relaunch the company as a subscription service within the next year. Roxio also acquired label-backed service Pressplay to provide the backbone of its new music network.

Verizon request denied

Elsewhere in the courts Wednesday, an appeals court denied a request from telco Verizon to stop the Recording Industry Assn. of America from obtaining information about Verizon users that trade music on peer-to-peer sites.

The denial is seen as a first step toward potential lawsuits against individual users of file-sharing services — a step the music industry has so far been unwilling, or unable, to take. Case revolves around two specific peer-to-peer users, who are said by the labels to have traded hundreds of illegal files each.

A Verizon rep said the company would comply with the order and turn over information as requested, but vowed that the company would continue to fight the case when it goes to full trial this September.

More Digital


    Dax Shepard, Bobby Bones, 'Breakfast Club' Among iHeartRadio Podcast Awards Winners

    iHeartRadio launched its first ever Podcast Awards on Friday (January 18) in Los Angeles. Among the winners in 22 categories were “Whine Down with Jana Kramer” (Best Entertainment TV Podcast); “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (Breakout Podcast); “Bobbycast” (Music Podcast); and “The Breakfast Club” (Best Multicultural Podcast). The winners were determined by iHeartRadio listeners. Taking the top prize of Podcast [...]

  • Velvet Buzzsaw trailer

    Netflix Original Movies: What to Look Forward To in 2019

    Following the biggest fourth-quarter worldwide subscriber gain ever and some controversy around increased prices in the U.S., Netflix looks to keep its momentum going into 2019. From Jan. 18 through March, the streaming site will release 10 original films, including action-packed thrillers, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi, quirky comedies, inspirational dramas, an artistic horror movie and a viral [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Release of Docs to Reveal How Facebook Made Money Off Children

    Documents related to a 2012 lawsuit against Facebook in which children, sometimes unwittingly, spent their parents’ money on games via the social site will be unsealed, according to a Monday ruling from the United States District Court. The court gave Facebook ten days to file unredacted documents in accordance with the ruling. The 2012 lawsuit [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Sets Up New Product Group for AR Glasses (Report)

    Facebook has restructured its augmented and virtual reality research division and set up a new group tasked with building augmented reality (AR) glasses, according to a new Business Insider report. Facebook acknowledged the move in a statement given to the publication, saying that the move affected “a few hundred people.” The group has already built [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content