Aimee Mann Sues MediaNet Digital for $18M

     (CN) – Singer-songwriter Aimee Mann sued MediaNet for $18 million, claiming the digital music provider distributes her music without permission.
     Mann, former lead singer for the band Til Tuesday, sued MediaNet Digital in Los Angeles Federal Court.
     MediaNet provides music and a technology platform to enable business partners such as Yahoo Music, Playlist.com and other online radio outlets to offer their own branded digital music services to consumers.
     It does this through so-called “limited” downloads (for instance, to a user’s hard drive); interactive streams (on-demand digital transmissions); and non-interactive streams (Internet radio).
     MediaNet also offers visitors to its website to buy digital copies (DPDs) of individual songs for 99 cents to $1.29.
     Mann claims in the lawsuit: “In addition to making streams and DPDs available through the Service and Website, MediaNet has made server copies of millions of musical works in its library to facilitate their delivery to end users. The server copies of copyrighted musical works reproduced, maintained and/or distributed by MediaNet to operate its Music Service also require license authority from the copyright owners.”
     Mann claims that to operate its business, MediaNet must to obtain a license for each sound recording from the copyright owners, and a separate license for the underlying musical composition. And, she says, for any of the service customers to lawfully transmit, reproduce or distribute any sound recording via MediaNet’s service, the licenses must be assignable to third parties.
     Companies that want to distribute an artist’s songs can either obtain a voluntary license – in other words, getting the express consent of the copyright holder – or a compulsory license in accordance with the Copyright Act.
     “However, pursuant to Section 115, failure to serve or file the notice required prior to distribution forecloses the possibility of a compulsory license and, in the absence of a voluntary license, renders the making and distribution of phonorecords actionable as acts of copyright infringement,” Mann says in the complaint.
     Mann claims she entered into a license agreement with MediaNet in December 2003, but she terminated the agreement two years later, with an effective termination date of Dec. 4, 2006.
     Under terms of the license agreement, the agreement was subject to two automatic two-year extensions, unless terminated by either party with 90-days written notice, Mann says.
     Mann claims that MediaNet never informed her of the auto-renewal provision, as required by New York’s General Obligations Laws, rendering the auto-renewal of the license term unenforceable.
     “Despite having received the Termination Notice, and despite the unenforceability of the auto-renewal provisions in the License Agreement, MediaNet continued to distribute the Compositions as part of MediaNet’s service, despite having no right or license to do so,” Mann says in the complaint.
     Mann, perhaps best known for Til Tuesday’s biggest hit, “Voices Carry,” says she’s entitled to recover up to $150,000 in statutory damages for the willful copyright infringement of 120 of her songs.
     She also claims that MediaNet offered more favorable fees to some publishers rather than others, and that it never informed her of these disparate agreements, impairing her ability to get a better deal for herself.
     These fee agreements result in higher royalty payments for some artists, and affected how and when the company accounted for and made royalty payments, Mann says.
     Mann claims that she hasn’t received a royalty statement or payment from MediaNet since Jan. 4, 2006.
     She claims MediaNet “failed to notify plaintiff of such more favorable terms, failed to adjust the License Agreement to incorporate such more favorable payment terms and failed to account and pay to plaintiff under the License Agreement in accordance with such more favorable payment terms.”
     Mann seeks statutory damages, a permanent injunction preventing MediaNet from distributing her songs, impoundment of the infringing recordings, attorney’s fees and costs.
     She is represented by Maryann Marzano, with Gradstein & Marzano in Los Angeles.

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