Arithmetic Error Causes MP3.com/TVT Retrial

Jurors award label millions less than they intended; new trial scheduled for November.

A simple arithmetic error has resulted in a mistrial in TVT Records’ copyright-infringement case against MP3.com.

After learning that jurors awarded TVT millions of dollars less than they intended, a judge declared on Tuesday that a retrial would begin November 5, according to a spokesperson for the record label.

In April, jurors awarded TVT about $300,000 after finding that MP3.com violated the label’s copyrights with its My.MP3.com service. But soon after the verdict, jurors told Judge Jed Rakoff that they had dropped a zero in their calculations and had meant to award closer to $3 million.

My.MP3.com allowed users to listen to CDs online if they could prove they possessed (if only temporarily) a physical copy of the CD or bought it from certain online retailers. MP3.com built an electronic library of music, which copyright holders argued it had no right to do. The company ultimately paid multimillion-dollar settlements last year to each of the major record companies and 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. Tom Waits, Randy Newman and other songwriters recently filed their own copyright-infringement suit against MP3.com because of its service (see “Ann And Nancy Wilson, Tom Waits, Randy Newman Sue MP3.com” ).

Vivendi Universal, parent company of the Universal Music Group, recently bought MP3.com. Vivendi said in a statement that it doesn’t expect the TVT suit to affect its plans for the company. An MP3.com spokesperson did not return a call for comment on the retrial.

TVT’s artists include Sevendust, Tha Eastsidaz and Guided by Voices.