Google withdraws lawsuit against record label

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Google withdraws lawsuit against record label

Wed Jun 16, 2010 @ 12:38PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

510_GoogleMusic EXCLUSIVE: Google has successfully backed down a record label that accused it of facilitating copyright infringement of songs on third-party websites.

On Tuesday, Google voluntarily withdrew its lawsuit against Blues Destiny Records that sought a California court's declaration that the search engine was legally in the clear to link to the label's songs on Rapidshare. The court action was filed last month after Blues Destiny withdrew its own lawsuit in Florida, but wouldn't waive its right to pursue further legal action.

According to Bennett Fisher, the attorney for Blues Destiny, the label has now agreed to Google's demands and won't be making claims for any past actions on Google's part. 

The agreement puts on hiatus an legal controversy over what may be the easiest way these days to steal a copyright song.
In the Blues Destiny case, the tiny record label had accused Google of helping to prop up Rapidshare, which it believed was running "a distribution center for unlawful copies of copyrighted works."

Rapidshare has thus been far been successful in escaping its own liability. Recently, a federal judge denied an injunction sought by an adult entertainment publisher Perfect 10 against Rapidshare, ruling the file-hosting company was distinguishable from Napster because it didn't index its songs. 

Rapidshare doesn't need to index its songs, though. It has Google to do it for them. For example, one can easily Google "Katy Perry California Gurls Rapidshare" and get 321,000 results. Not all of them link to the current Billboard 100 single, but anyone who invests a few minutes of time will likely find a free download of the song off a 3rd party website.

Does this mean that Google is legally responsible for holding the map that connects a pirate to a copyrighted song? 

In Perfect 10 v. Google, a similar case involving the indexing and linking of copyrighted photos, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave Google a pass on direct infringement but left unsettled some questions of secondary liability. The Blues Destiny case had the potential to fill in some of the gaps, but the unresolved questions will have to wait another court battle.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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