Ann And Nancy Wilson, Tom Waits, Randy Newman Sue MP3.com

Songwriters ask for $40 million in copyright infringement case.

Tom Waits, Randy Newman and Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson have launched the latest legal salvo against online music site MP3.com, asking for $40 million in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Like prior lawsuits by record labels and publishers, the suit from the four songwriters focuses on MP3.com’s “My.MP3.com” service. When it launched, My.MP3.com allowed users to listen to CDs online if they proved that they at least temporarily possessed a physical copy of the CD, or bought it through certain online retailers.

MP3.com made the service work by building an electronic library of music, which copyright holders argued they had no right to do. The company ultimately paid multimillion dollar lawsuit settlements last year to each of the major record companies, as well as to music publishers. After shutting down for several months, My.MP3.com relaunched in December, though with a much smaller catalog of songs and little major label material.

Waits, Newman and the Wilson sisters filed their suit because they are among the relatively few artists who own the publishing rights to their songs, according to their lawyer, Bruce Van Dalsem.
“I think anyone who owns something and has someone taking it who’s not entitled … would be upset,” Van Dalsem said Tuesday (May 8). “This is their life’s work.”
Other artists who own their publishing rights are discussing the possibility of joining the suit, according to Van Dalsem.

A spokesperson for MP3.com said the company would not comment on the lawsuit until it has a chance to look over the complaint.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, cites 270 songs by the four writers, including the contents of Waits’ Mule Variations (1999), Newman’s Little Criminals (1977) and Heart’s Bebe Le Strange (1980).

(For complete coverage of online music, check out MTV News’ “Napster Files.” )