Napster Asks Court Who Should ID Copyrighted Files

By | March 15, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Napster has asked a U.S. District Court for a “prompt resolution” to its dispute with the major record labels and the Recording Industry Association of America over who is ultimately responsible for identifying copyrighted files for removal from the file-sharing service.

Napster said it has done everything in its power to comply with the court’s injunction to remove copyrighted material, according to the compliance report it delivered to the court and the RIAA on Tuesday. The report accused the record labels and the RIAA of not holding up their end of the bargain.

Napster claims to have loaded approximately 6 million file names, including duplicates, and 26,000 artist/title combinations to be filtered from its system. The report said Napster planned to add another 2 million file names for filtering this week.

But the report reiterates something Napster has been claiming all along: Because the possibilities for alternative file names are virtually limitless, the only way to make absolutely sure no copyrighted files are traded is to shut down the system entirely. The report also accuses the labels and the RIAA of misconstruing the injunction and “asserting that they have no duty to provide notice of any file name(s) containing infringing works.”

The RIAA disagrees. “We believe the court’s intent is clear,” RIAA spokesperson Amy Weiss said Tuesday. “Napster is required to stop infringing. Stall tactics are unacceptable.”

The report adds that the cost of implementing filtering so far has been 2,700 hours and $150,000 in salary. Napster projects that the work of its 12-person compliance team will cost nearly $1 million.

Napster does appear to be making some progress, at least in terms of blocking files with correct song titles. For instance, a search for Eminem’s “Stan” on Wednesday yielded no hits. A search for his “The Way I Am” brought up no exact matches, but dozens of files labeled “The Way That I Am.” Likewise, a search for Nelly’s “Country Grammar” returned “Country gGrammar,” “Country 1Grammar” and “Counrty Grammar.”

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