Napster's Last Effort

One million copyrighted files blocked by Napster

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Napster Inc. has blocked the use of one million copyrighted files on their Web site. The file-swapping software maker announced the decision on March 2nd during a hearing in front of Judge Marilyn Patel in California. Judge Patel issued an injunction, essentially shutting down Napster last July, but following the company's appeal was asked to rewrite the injunction by the Ninth District Court in San Francisco on February 12th. Following that decision, Napster offered to pay a $1 billion settlement over five years to labels in exchange for being allowed to continue operating as a subscription-based service. No label has accepted the offer yet.

Representatives from both Napster and the record labels suing the company were asked to participate in the hearing last Friday, which offered each side the opportunity to make recommendations on how to modify the July injunction so that copyrighted material is clearly defined. Napster is asking that record labels with a grievance notify them of the title of work, the featured recording artist performing the work, the filenames the song appears under on Napster.com and a certification of the copyrights by the plaintiffs. Since filenames and song titles often do not match, Napster has asked that record companies cooperate in determining what titles and filenames are copyrighted works.

Lawyers for the recording industry told the court on Friday that a list of 5,600 song titles has already been submitted for blocking. However those song titles could go by countless different filenames on the Napster system. Despite the efforts to adhere to the injunction, Napster maintains that such a filtering system will lead to the removal of both authorized and unauthorized files from the system and involves "a significant investment of time and resources. However, we believe it is superior to shutting the service down and disbanding the community during the transition period to the new membership-based service," read the statement on Napster.

Hilary Rosen, President and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, expressed gratitude for the court's efforts in resolving the matter and enthusiasm for the future of a digital music market, but carefully averted any indication of whether Napster stands a chance in playing a role in the developing industry. "Given the overwhelming nature of this Court's and the Ninth Circuit's earlier conclusions that Napster violates copyright laws," her statement said, "we're confident that ultimately this will pave the way for a legitimate online music market to take hold and flourish."

As for Napster, CEO Hank Barry restated the company's determination to take a leading role the business of online music. "We will continue to press forward in our effort to reach agreement with the other major recording companies, whether they accept our offer of $1 billion over the next five years or a payment model to be negotiated among the parties. We believe that this matter could and should be successfully resolved by the mediator appointed by Judge Patel."

Meanwhile Napster launched a campaign of its own, flashing quotes on its site from a who's who of Napster supporters including B.B. King, Bono, and Courtney Love.

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