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Company Town Paying to End Suit

April 18, 2001|From Associated Press

A nine-month legal fight between an Internet-based TV taping service and a group of movie studios was settled after agreed to pay $50,000 and stop offering recorded shows without the studio's permission.

RecordTV had signed up 100,000 people who could have the site record specific TV shows and then play them back over the Internet at a later date.

Twelve members of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Walt Disney Co., filed a lawsuit in federal court in June alleging copyright infringement.

Monday's settlement requires RecordTV to stop offering recordings without permission from the corresponding MPAA member, to pay the $50,000 in plaintiffs' legal fees and to stop using plaintiffs' trademarks while advertising the site.

An MPAA lawyer Monday called the site defunct, but RecordTV representatives said the operation is very alive. Founder David Simon said he hopes to create a new business model that allows his company to enter legitimate deals with MPAA members.

That's not likely, said Robert Schwartz, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

"There are no plans by any of the studios to do business with Mr. Simon or his defunct Web site," Schwartz said. "There is simply no technical or business reason that necessitates anyone doing business with the defendants."

The studios originally planned to seek $150,000 for each act of alleged copyright infringement--a total estimated at $10 million. But the plaintiffs agreed on the small settlement because didn't have much money, Schwartz said.

Simon said the stress of the suit took its toll on him and his family, and he was ready to move on.

"We didn't have the funding to continue fighting, which is unfortunate, because I still think we were in the right--but whatever," Simon said. "I am a guy with a mortgage, a wife, two girls and a dog."

Simon's lawyer, Ira Rothken, said he hoped the MPAA had learned a lesson from the legal battle.

"We hope that the benefit of the litigation will be that the MPAA will see there is enough demand for providing Internet-based VCRs, so people won't be limited to recording in the house," he said.

Schwartz said he knew of no other Internet sites operating like RecordTV.

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