While record label’s efforts in the marketplace have largely failed, their aggressive litigation strategies have won some technology-crushing verdicts. Ever since the landmark case Sony Corp. of Am. v Universal City Studios, Inc. the content and technology industries have frequently engaged in courtroom battles. Three of the most influential decisions of the last decade will be summarized here.
First, UMG Recordings, Inc., v MP3.com, Inc. in 2000, was centered on a website, MP3.com, which permitted users to access a huge database of music over the Internet after demonstrating independent ownership of an original copy of that recording. The district court found MP3.com directly liable for copyright infringement because it failing to obtain authorization from plaintiffs to copy and distribute their copyrighted works, a violation of plaintiffs’ exclusive rights under §106 of the Copyright Act. The court also rejected MP3.com’s Fair Use defense. The court found that the purpose and character of MP3.com’s use of the plaintiff’s work was commercial and non-transformative; the nature of the work used was core protected content; the work was copied and distributed in its entirety; and finally, MP3.com’s actions would have an adverse market affect on the plaintiff’s music.