Napster Responds To RIAA Non-Compliance Filing

By | March 29, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Napster CEO Hank Barry issued a response to Tuesday’s (March 27) U.S. District Court non-compliance report filing by the Recording Industry Association of America, calling the complaint “unsurprising.”

“The RIAA’s call for a fundamental change in Napster’s technology is unsurprising: It is an attempt to change the subject rather than cooperate with Napster as the injunction specifies,” said Barry in the statement, released late Tuesday night.

In Tuesday’s filing, the RIAA accused Napster of not complying with a March 5 injunction ordering Napster to immediately begin the process of removing requested copyrighted material from its file-swapping service. The filing also pointed out several technologies in which the Napster filtering system, which initially only recognized exact matches of the title of the work in question, the name of the featured recording artist, and the name of the files available on Napster’s system containing such work, could be improved.

“What is surprising are the efforts that they have made to delay the naming of a technical expert by the court,” continued Barry. “Napster will work with any technology that fits within the parameters of the court’s order. We believe that an objective, independent expert would be a better arbiter of these technical issues than the RIAA. We look forward to Judge Patel’s appointment of such an expert.”

As evidence of its compliance with the court order, Barry pointed out that Napster has successfully filtered over 275,000 unique songs and over 1.6 million unique file names (songs may come in many different file names as deliberate misspellings by Napster users have been employed to circumvent filtering) since the injunction. Barry also claims the total number of files available through Napster at any given time has dropped by 57 percent, from 370 million to 160 million.

Additionally, Barry used the opportunity to get in a pot shot as well, accusing the RIAA of not cooperating with the injunction by not providing variations of file names to Napster. “The RIAA’s report fails to mention their complete lack of cooperation in supplying variations in artist names and song titles,” said Barry. “While we have gone forward to block this multitude of files, it is important to note that not a single record company has provided us with one variant of any song name.

“This is contrary to both the Ninth Circuit’s decision and the District Court’s order,” he continued. “As stated in the District Court’s order, ‘All parties shall use reasonable measures in identifying variations of the file name(s) or of the spelling of the titles or artists’ names of the works identified by plaintiffs. If it is reasonable to believe that a file available on the Napster system is a variation of a particular work or file identified by plaintiffs, all parties have an obligation to ascertain the actual identity (title and artist name) of the work and to take appropriate action within the context of this Order.’ The District Court also said that ‘the Ninth Circuit held that the burden of ensuring that no copying, downloading, uploading, transmitting, or distributing of plaintiffs’ copyrighted works occurs on the system is shared between the parties.”

In Conclusion, Barry Ended His Statement With A Series Of Accusatory Questions Aimed At The RIAA — Firing Off Another Bomb In This Ongoing War:

  • The RIAA claims to have information about many files available through Napster. Why did the RIAA send this information to the court and not to Napster, as is called for by the injunction?
  • Is the RIAA’s report based on the notices that are compliant or on the notices that failed in some major way to comply with the court’s order?
  • Were their searches done before or after the entry of the Gracenote variants on Friday, March 23?
  • Was the data on which their report is based any more accurate than the data they have been sending to Napster?

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