Who's Playing My Song?

In a little-noticed suit believed to be the first class action challenging new interactive services, New York-based Frank Music went to court against CompuServe on Nov. 29 for copyright infringement. Arguing on behalf of itself and 140 other music publishers, Frank alleged that the on-line computer network has reproduced and distributed over 500 copyrighted musical compositions without paying owners. CompuServe's electronic bulletin board system allows subscribers to download music onto PCs from data bases supplied by independent contractors. That means CompuServe isn't the responsible party, says its general counsel. The company is trying to negotiate a compromise that will satisfy the publishers and the third-party software providers.

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