Artist Aimee Mann sues content provider to music services MediaNet for infringement

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Issue Date: 
Jul 24 2013 - 12:35pm

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Singer-songwriter Aimee Mann has filed suit against a company called MediaNet, described by Billboard as "essentially a white label that serves up more than 22 million songs to over 40 music services including Yahoo Music, Playlist.com, eBay and various online radio services."

Mann claims the service has willfully infringed on her copyrights through the unlicensed use of her music, and induced copyright infringement by its partners. She's asking for statutory damages which could end up as high as $18 million.

MediaNet CEO Frank Johnson says Mann's claim is without merit, and says his company has properly licensed Mann's music since 2003, and have made regular royalty payments.

Formerly known as MusicNet, the company was founded in 1999 and backed by music label groups BMG and EMI, along with AOL and RealNetworks. It was on online music store and the music industry's poorly-received answer to the then popular filesharing service Napster. MusicNet and the rival UMG/Sony Music-backed Pressplay were named two of PC World's "25 Worst Tech Products of All Time."

After being acquired by private investors, "the company appears to have had an interesting, legally contentious road toward becoming some form of back office aggregator of music for dozens of online music services," Billboard wrote.

For its coverage, GigaOm commented, "In the bigger picture, the MediaNet affair looks like part of a long and unfortunate history of middlemen in the music industry who have exploited, or outright robbed, the musicians they’re supposed to represent." Such cases "show how musicians’ financial woes arise not just from low streaming royalties, but from the complicated way in which music money is collected and distributed... Going forward, musicians can’t simply rail that streaming services should pay higher fees. They must also explain how to create a more rational system of payments to ensure they receive those higher fees in the first place."

Read Mann's complaint here. Billboard's reporting is here. And there's more from GigaOm here.

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