Napster win turns tables on music labels

— 10:48 PM on February 22, 2002

I can't believe it's actually happening, but apparently the judge in a Napster court case is asking all the right questions. The issue is digital distribution rights for music. The record labels apparently made life hard for companies like Napster to develop legal music distribution businesses, yet the labels worked together to build their own online distribution services.

"The evidence now shows that the plaintiffs have licensed their catalogues of works for digital distribution in what could be an overreaching manner," Patel wrote. "The evidence also suggests the plaintiffs' entry into the digital distribution marketplace may run afoul of antitrust laws."
Just business as usual from the folks who give us $17 music CDs, right? When examined in light of the MP3 revolution, maybe not. The court wants the music companies to prove they own the copyrights they're claiming Napster has infringed. (Credit billb for the link.) Recording contracts written before the age of online music distribution may not even grant the companies the rights to distribute artists' music online. Doh!
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