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Arista Records, LLC v. Launch Media, Inc.

578 F.3d 148 (2009)

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Arista Records, LLC v. Launch Media, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

578 F.3d 148 (2009)

Facts

Launch Media, Inc. (Launch) (defendant) was an online music service that allowed users to select their favorite genres and assign ratings to songs. This data, in turn, generated playlists intended to suit users’ personal preferences. A certain number of song inclusions were based on the songs’ popularity with other Launch users within the bandwidth of specified genres though other songs were more randomly selected. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, interactive services were defined as services that enabled a particular individual to select and receive a transmission of a sound recording. The law required providers of these services to pay individual licensing fees to copyright holders. By contrast, providers of noninteractive music transmission services were required to pay only a statutory licensing fee. The purpose of the distinction was to protect copyright holders from the losses that accompanied increased listener control over music consumption in the online era. A group of record companies—Arista Records, LLC; Bad Boy Records; BMG Music; and Zomba Recording LLC (the record companies) (plaintiffs)—brought a copyright-infringement suit against Launch, alleging that Launch was an interactive service and was thus required to pay individual licensing fees. The district court ruled in favor of Launch. The record companies appealed. The United States Court of Appeals granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wesley, J.)

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