For MP3, this ruling is a particularly harsh indictment; executives hoped the site's strict "usage guidelines" the company claims participants are forced to prove they own a particular CD before listening to the songs, a bit of legally inspired window-dressing that seems both illogical and unlikely would help protect the company from record companies' wrath. They were wrong. And now, as the music industry learns of Universal's hefty win, MP3 faces another round of jaw-dropping fines while the site managed to cut deals with several record companies to stanch any legal action, only half of the music featured on MP3 is covered under those agreements.
Predictably, MP3 spokespeople expressed disappointment with the judge's decision, just as record executives everywhere burst into cheers. This is unlikely to be the last go-around over online music distribution; as the topic (and the practice) heats up, each wave of new users is almost guaranteed to be closely followed by a new wave of lawsuits.