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RIAA wins court action against MP3

The direction of digital music distribution has taken another turn with a US Federal judge upholding a claim by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that MP3.com's services infringe copyright laws.

The suit seeks to shut down the service, which allows MP3.com customers to buy a CD online through an MP3.com partner and stream it directly into an account. Similarly, already owned CDs can be transferred into an online account.

MP3.com, which holds an online database of 45,000 CDs, plans to appeal the decision when Judge Jed Rakoff's written ruling is released in two weeks' time. MP3 will continue its service until the ruling is handed down.

The RIAA is now seeking damages and has asked for the maximum penalty for each CD illegally copied by MP3.com in its database. Although this could potentially mean millions, the penalty can range from $US200 per title to $150,000.

Have phone, will shop

New York-based Verizon Wireless has announced plans to provide its mobile telephone customers with Web-based access to comparison-shopping information and product reviews, starting next month.

The company claims its shoppers should be able to execute wireless purchases from their mobile phones by the third quarter.

Verizon said pricing comparisons and reviews will be made available through an agreement with BarPoint.com in the US. BarPoint has spent the past 18 months amassing a database of information about millions of products based on their UPC bar codes. BarPoint officials envision that in the near future consumers will be able to attach bar-code scanners to their mobile phones.

Verizon said its mobile phone customers can quickly make price comparisons online while shopping in a retail store - an act that several bricks-and-mortar retailers say they don't plan to discourage.

US retail market eludes post-holiday slumpA survey by analyst Harris Interactive has revealed that online revenue remained constant in comparison with the last quarter, in spite of the traditional low ebb which accompanies the holiday season.

The market was buoyed by categories such as travel services, cosmetics and online auctions, according to the survey e.commercePlus.

Conventional seasonal markets such as electronics, clothing and toys saw their earnings drop in comparison with last year's quarter.

Electronics income dropped by almost a quarter to $US287 million. However, online staples such as CDs, books and computer hardware all showed growth.

Overall the number of Internet customers increased from 23.3 million to 26.6 million, up 15 per cent.


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