MediaNet in royalty row

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WASHINGTON -- Music publishers filed a class action suit on Wednesday in New York accusing MediaNet, the online music service originally owned by the record labels, of willful and ongoing copyright infringement.

In 2001, the National Music Publishers Assn. and its licensing subsidiary, the Harry Fox Agency, entered into an agreement with the record labels to license digital uses of its copyrighted musical works -- including limited downloads and interactive streams -- at rates now being determined by the Copyright Royalty Board. A number of digital media companies also were offered a "rateless" deal.

Although MediaNet was originally covered under the 2001 agreement when owned by record labels, it refused to enter into a new agreement when it was sold by the labels to a private equity firm, Baker Capital, in May 2005.
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