Waits, Newman, Wilson Sisters Sue MP3.com

Songwriters Randy Newman, Tom Waits, and members of Heart filed a $40 million lawsuit yesterday against MP3.com, claiming the Internet company violated federal copyright laws.

The complaint, filed at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleges that MP3.com illegally copied tens of thousands of songs from the plaintiffs' albums for its My.MP3.com service.

The Web company recently settled lawsuits with the five major recording labels, paying out millions of dollars to gain licensing rights to the labels' music. Metallica waged a well-known legal war against song-swap-software company Napster, but these are the most prominent artists to take on MP3.com.

"This is a case of artists banding together to protect their most valuable assets — their songs," attorney Bruce Van Dalsem said. "More successful songwriters of this caliber need to stand up against copyright infringement in order to protect their own rights and discourage the theft of music written by lesser-known artists who cannot afford to protect their smaller catalogs of work."

Among the songs at issue are Newman's "I Love L.A." and "Short People," the songs from Waits' Grammy-winning album Mule Variations, and songs written by Heart sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.