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Three Internet Copyright Infringement Cases Settled

Recording Industry Draws the Line on Unauthorized Uses of Music on the Internet

Washington, DC - The Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group representing U.S. record labels, has reached settlements in three separate federal lawsuits against three Internet sites that violated federal copyright laws by reproducing and distributing copyrighted sound recordings without authorization. In each of the cases, federal courts issued decisions and consent judgments in favor of the RIAA's position.

As part of the judgments, each of the site operators has agreed to refrain from any further infringements and to destroy any unauthorized sound recordings in their possession. In addition, each defendant stipulated to a damages award of $100,000 for each infringed sound recording identified in the complaint, representing damage awards totaling more than $1 million against each defendant. As part of the settlement, the RIAA has agreed to forgo execution of those judgments provided defendants do not ever again infringe the copyrights of RIAA member companies.

Using their Internet sites, defendants unlawfully copied, and encouraged countless others to copy, hundreds of different full-length copyrighted sound recordings of today's most popular artists. One of the sites brazenly declared: "Leech what you want. I don't care. Just be nice and try to upload something." The infringing copies could be played through a computer's speakers, with near CD-quality sound, by anyone who downloaded them. Given the speed and ease of widely-transmitting information on the Internet, the potential harm to copyright owners is exponentially greater than traditional acts of piracy.

QUOTE: Hilary Rosen, RIAA President and CEO

"The RIAA has drawn a line in cyberspace. We will not tolerate unauthorized reproduction and distribution of recorded music on the Internet. While we decided to forgo collecting damages from these defendants, that may not be the norm in the future. After this first round of suits, people are now on notice that their action may have serious consequences.

"Whether or not for commercial profit, these music archive sites hurt artists, record companies, musicians and everyone else involved in the creative process who depend on royalties to earn a living."


The RIAA filed the suits on June 9, 1997, in the Southern District of New York, the Southern District of California and the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. The suits were directed at the operators of the sites. The Internet service providers were not sued.

The plaintiffs in the case are A&M Records, Inc., Arista Records, Inc., Atlantic Recording Corporation, Capitol Records, Inc., Geffen Records, Inc., Island Records, Inc., London Records, Inc., Maverick Recording Company, MCA Records, Inc., PolyGram Records, Inc., Sony Music Entertainment Inc., and Warner Bros. Records Inc.

For the past two years the RIAA has been contacting Internet sites and informing them of how copyright laws may apply. As part of the broader education campaign, the RIAA is specifically addressing the growing problem of Music Archive Sites on university servers by implementing a college Internet Copyright Campaign to inform students and administrators about the legal implications of copyright infringement.


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy