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Record Label Awarded $300,000 In Case Against MP3

A New York jury Friday ordered online music company MP3.com Inc. to pay about $300,000 in damages to an independent record label for copyright infringement, as both sides claimed victory in the case and MP3.com said it would appeal.

In a lawsuit filed about a year ago, privately owned TVT Records claimed that San Diego-based MP3’s Instant Listening service violated TVT copyrights by making TVT songs available to Web surfers for listening online.

A federal judge said that on previous precedent copyright violations had occurred, and a jury was asked to determine damages in a case that went to trial about two weeks ago.

TVT founder Steve Gottlieb said the award vindicated his company.

“We prevailed,” Gottlieb told Reuters. “If they’re going to be good corporate citizens going forward, they should learn to respect intellectual property. We’re pleased we resolved this … issue.”

But MP3’s Greg Wilfahrt said TVT had been seeking as much as $8.5 million, and the much smaller $300,000 award showed the jury was largely unconvinced by TVT’s argument. In fact, MP3 previously paid a much larger estimated $133 million to end its copyright disputes with five major record labels.

“We believe this is a clear cut victory for MP3, and we also look forward to having our argument brought before a different judge in the appellate court.”

The decision comes as the major record labels are mounting their first major push into online distribution of music after winning a long-running legal campaign against the song-swapping service Napster. That service has been ordered by a federal court to stop trade in copyrighted material.

Earlier this week, AOL Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Music Group, Bertelsmann AG’s BMG Entertainment and EMI Group Plc said they have licensed their catalogs to MusicNet, a new venture that will be powered by Internet software company RealNetworks Inc. .

Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company and a unit of France’s Vivendi Universal , and Sony Music Entertainment have also joined forces to make their record catalogs available online through a joint-venture called Duet.

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