Major Nashville Publisher Sues MP3 for Copyright Infringement

Holder of Many Garth Brooks Hits Seeks Unspecified Damages

A major Nashville song publisher has filed suit against online music site MP3.com, asking for an unspecified amount of money for "willful copyright infringement."

The Major Bob Music Publishing Group, which owns some 2,500 copyrights — including much of Garth Brooks ’ recorded work — charges MP3 with repeated and deliberate infringement of its copyrights. The lawsuit, filed Monday (May 14) in U.S. District Court, the Southern District of New York, seeks at least $150,000 for each copyright infringement.

The Major Bob Publishing Group, which comprises publishers Major Bob Music, Rio Bravo Music, Castle Bound Music, Dream Catcher Music and Moon Catcher Music, cites several recent lawsuits against MP3.com, including suits by UMG Recordings, Inc., MPL Communications and Peer International, Zomba Recording Corporation and Tee Vee Toons Records. It noted that the District Court ruled that UMG Recordings was entitled to $25,000 for each CD whose copyrights it owned.

The Major Bob lawsuit asks at least $150,000 per copyright infringement and — while it does not list a total of song copyrights copied — it specifies that the company owns around 2,500 copyrights and cites 219 recorded songs by name, including "The River" and dozens of other Garth Brooks songs, as well as songs recorded by Trisha Yearwood , LeAnn Rimes , Kenny Chesney , Tina Turner, Barry Manilow, Pam Tillis , Etta James, Lee Ann Womack and others.

The suit charges that MP3.com’s "MyMP3," which purported to limit access to copyrighted music to listeners who had bought a CD at retail or from MP3’s online retailers in its Instant Listening services, was in fact an "illusory" safeguard.

A representative for Major Bob declined comment, as did MP3.

The singers and songwriters Tom Waits, Randy Newman, and Ann and Nancy Wilson of the group Heart filed a similar lawsuit against MP3 on May 8, asking for $40 million in damages.