Warner Music sues social networking site

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Warner Music Group Corp. is suing the operators of the social-networking Web site imeem, claiming the portal enables millions of computer users to share its artists' music and video content without permission.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on behalf of several New York-based Warner Music Group subsidiaries, including Atlantic Recording Corp., Elektra Entertainment Group Inc., and Warner Bros. Records Inc.

The record company seeks a court order to stop imeem from using Warner Music content on its site, and unspecified damages, including up to $150,000 for each unauthorized music video or song posted on the Web site.

In its complaint, Warner claims imeem invites "millions of users to flock to its Web site to copy, adapt, distribute and perform unlicensed sound recordings and music videos."

The record company also contends imeem's operators have deliberately refrained from using technology to prevent its users from sharing content.

"Imeem itself directly engages in much of the infringing conduct by duplicating, adapting, distributing and performing plaintiff's works through imeem's own servers," the lawsuit states.

Calls and an e-mail sent to a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based imeem Inc. were not immediately returned late Tuesday.

Imeem, which describes itself as a "leading next-generation social media network," launched in March 2006. It claims to have 16 million active users.

Venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Morgenthaler Ventures are among imeem's financial backers, according to the lawsuit.

Imeem is the latest social networking site to be a target of litigation by a record company. Last fall, Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group filed a similar complaint against MySpace.com. That lawsuit is still pending.

Warner Music Group shares fell 2 cents to $17.10 on Tuesday.
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