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Napster Officially Done

File-sharing company laid to rest

September 4, 2002 12:00 AM ET

Napster officially took its last breath on September 3rd when an attempted buyout by Bertelsmann Entertainment Group (BEG) -- which owns several record labels, including Arista Records and J Records, homes to Santana, Alicia Keys and dozens of others -- failed to go through bankruptcy court.

Wilmington, Delaware bankruptcy court Judge Peter J. Walsh cited a conflict of interest for Napster CEO Konrad Hilbers, who was a former Bertelsmann employee. Judge Walsh's decision was also supported by Universal Records and other major labels, who cited Bertelsmann's reluctance to turn over documents related to the loans and relationships between it and Napster. Those same labels were involved in the initial lawsuits that began Napster's slow demise.

In May, Bertelsmann laid out $8 million towards the payment of Napster's creditors and funded the company's efforts to relaunch the site as a pay subscription service that would block the trading of unauthorized, copyrighted material. Napster had been offline since last July after two years of legal wrangling with the Recording Industry Association of America.

"Napster is disappointed with the bankruptcy court's decision not to approve the sale of the company's assets to Bertelsmann," Hilbers said in a statement. "As a result of the record companies' and music publishers' opposition, Napster's creditors will be denied substantial repayment and the company will likely be forced into Chapter 7 liquidation."

Napster subsequently laid off all its employees and the Web site's home page sports the Napster logo with "Napster Was Here" written below. The link takes visitors to the service's final resting place, a picture of a gravestone with the Napster cat logo and the words "Ded (sic) Kitty."

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Song Stories

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The Four Tops formed 11 years before the release of this ballad, their first hit on Motown. The group had just wrapped up a gig at a Detroit nightclub when Brian Holland, who wrote the song with partners Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, invited them to Motown's studio to record into the wee hours of the night. In 2004, Holland explained how the words came to him one morning: "I was feeling very close to my wife, and thought of singing 'Baby I need your loving.' The phrase just entered my head. I felt she didn't really understand me, so I could explain how I felt through this song."

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