NEW YORK — The music industry may have won a key victory last week in court, but it probably can't win online.
A judge ruled Friday that an online service invented by MP3.com violates copyright law, in a serious blow to companies that hoped to capitalize on new technologies that make it easy to copy music.
But analysts say the decision won't do much to slow the spread of the technologies themselves, which are available to millions of Web listeners.
"It comes back to 'chop the head off one snake, and you have seven others come out,' " says Patrick Winton, an analyst at E-offering, a San Francisco investment research company.
Other lawsuits seek to define how music will be played on the Internet, which didn't exist when tens of thousands of records were produced.
While US District Judge Jed Rakoff did not explain his reasoning for the verdict, analysts say MP3.com likely lost because it copied music from 45,000 CDs onto company computers and gave online users access to it. Another company that has been sued by the recording industry, Napster Inc., may not be as vulnerable, since instead of storing music, it serves as an intermediary where users can share music from their own collections with one another.
"The more that this becomes a networked file-sharing system, it becomes impossible to litigate against," says Mark Mooradian, an analyst at Jupiter Communications in New York.
MP3.com says it plans to appeal the decision.
- Compiled from wire services
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society