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RIAA Sues Puretunes.com Music Web Site

A recording industry trade group said on Wednesday it has filed a lawsuit against a Spanish company that operates Puretunes.com, a music download service launched in May.

The lawsuit, filed last Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against Sakfield Holding SA, alleges the company engaged in copyright infringement and unfair competition.

The lawsuit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group representing the music industry, also claimed that Puretunes had defrauded its customers into believing that its service was licensed by record companies.

A representative for Puretunes could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

Matt Oppenheim, senior vice president for business and legal affairs for the RIAA, said the group was seeking damages and an injunction against the Web operator.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. federal court because the service operated as a business in the United States, selling U.S. recordings to U.S. consumers, he said.

The RIAA is a trade group for major labels Sony Music, AOL Time Warner’s Warner Music, Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music (V.N), Bertelsmann AG’s BMG, and EMI.

The group has been increasingly aggressive in its efforts to crack down on online piracy as fans have turned to such unauthorized services for music and the industry struggles with a steep decline in CD sales.

Javier Siguenza, a Madrid-based lawyer representing Puretunes, told Reuters in May the new company abided by Spanish copyright laws.

Puretunes had also previously said it was a legal service operating under licensing agreements from various Spanish trade associations representing performers and recording artists.

Unlike other download services such as Kazaa, Puretunes manages a music library and says it will pay royalties to performers. Eight hours of downloads cost $3.99 while unlimited downloads for a month cost $24.99, a steep discount from industry-sanctioned services such as Pressplay and those operated by Britain’s OD2.

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