Napster, record industry back to court on Monday

By | December 10, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Napster and the U.S. record industry will be back in court Monday, arguing over how much initiative the once-popular song-swapping service can take in order to comply with a court-ordered injunction that it stop trade in copyright-protected music.

The once-popular service has been idle since July due to technical glitches it faced while complying with the injunction, which bars the trade of any copyrighted material.

Both sides to the lawsuit, which remains widely watched as a defining case on intellectual property on the Internet, will go before a federal appeals court in Pasadena, California Monday, to argue over how to share the burden for patrolling the Web site and pulling any copyright-protected songs.

The injunction against Napster was issued by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco in March after she refined it in response to comments from a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California.

The panel found an earlier injunction by Patel to be overly broad by placing too much responsibility for enforcement on Napster rather than the labels who sued for copyright infringement.

Napster’s free service, both credited and criticized for taking digital music to a mass audience on the Internet, let users swap compressed music files stored on their own computers.

To comply the injunction, Napster contends it needs file names. But instead of providing file names, the recording industry has simply furnished song titles and names of artists.

“The RIAA has contended it should not have to supply Napster with specific file names,” said Matt Oppenheim, senior vice president of legal affairs for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The recording industry has also said that if Napster is aware that a copyright is being violated, it should not have to wait for industry notification to remove the song.

Napster, for its part, says in a ruling of this nature, digital music services should be required to remove content when requested via a filename notice. If filename notices are not required, then the types of content available on the system change radically, eliminating a great deal of content that does not need to be removed.

“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February that the burden was to be shared by both parties,” said Napster general counsel Jonathan Schwartz.

“One of the key elements in this ruling was that the plaintiffs had to submit filenames. On this issue, we’re asking that the court simply reaffirm its earlier ruling,” he said.

The Monday hearing was relocated to Pasadena at the discretion of the Ninth Circuit, lawyers said.

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