Song-swap company Napster Inc., which is locked in a huge legal battle with the recording industry over alleged Internet piracy, said Wednesday it has hired an online executive from one of its big record label foes.
Napster named Keith Bernstein, who had been senior director of operations at Universal Music Group's Global "e" division, as vice president of operations, reporting to Napster's chief operating officer, Milton Olin.
Napster's software lets fans swap songs for free by trading MP3 files, a compression format that turns music on compact discs into small computer files.
It has been sued for copyright infringement by the Recording Industry Assn. of America , which has called it a haven for piracy.
Bernstein's appointment comes one day before the RIAA is to respond to documents filed last week by Napster, contending its users are not violating copyrights by sharing files for noncommercial use.
A hearing is set for July 26 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
The RIAA represents all the big record companies, including Seagram Co.'s Universal Music, Bertelsmann BMG, Sony Corp.'s Sony Music and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Music Group, which is merging with EMI Group's EMI.