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Recording Industry Wins First Battle in Napster Copyright Case

May 09, 2000|From Reuters

A recording industry trade group claimed an initial victory Monday in its copyright battle against computer song-swap company Napster Inc., which it alleges is a haven for music piracy on the Internet.

U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Patel in San Francisco late Friday rejected Napster's claim that it is a "mere conduit."

Napster, in its motion for a summary judgment in the case, had claimed that it was merely a service provider and was not liable for the actions of its users. Napster's software works like a co-op, allowing users to trade their library of MP3 files, a compression format used to convert music on CDs into computer files. MP3.com Inc. lost a previous copyright case.

"Clearly the case will now move forward. Napster just lost its last delaying tactic," said Recording Industry Assn. of America Chief Executive Hilary Rosen.

The RIAA, in its suit against Napster, is hoping for an encore to its recent legal victory against online company MP3.com.

On April 28, in a serious blow to MP3.com and other Internet music companies such as Napster, a federal judge in New York ruled MP3.com violated copyright law with its database that lets users store music and then access it from any computer connected to the Internet.

Napster's attorney Laurence Pulgram said Friday that he had not yet received the entire ruling. But he, too, said, "The upshot of the court's decision is to move the case ahead."

The record industry trade group sued Napster in December, seeking an injunction against the service and statutory damages ranging from $500 to $100,000 per sound recording it claims had been pirated through Napster's program.

Analysts watching the case estimate the damages could approach billions of dollars.

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