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Court Could Shutter Napster Today

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will rule Monday whether to reinstate a lower court’s preliminary injunction that would shut Napster down.

The court took on Napster’s appeal of a U.S. district judge’s shut-down order in July and allowed the service to stay in operation. A three-judge panel has been reviewing arguments from the file-sharing service and its opponents, the five major record labels and the RIAA.

Even if it doesn’t shutter Napster, the decision – to be announced by the San Francisco court Monday at 11 AM PST – will clear the way for a trial to determine whether Napster violates copyright law, as the labels claim.

BMG, one of the so-called “big five” labels, and its parent company, Bertelsmann AG, have entered into an agreement to drop BMG’s lawsuit if the label and Napster can work together to create a subscription-based service that would pay royalties to labels and their artists. In January, indie label TVT Records dropped its suit and decided to work with the file-sharing service.

Representatives for Napster and its lawyer, David Boies, had no comment Friday (February 9). A spokesperson for the RIAA was unavailable at press time.

In operation less than two years, Napster has grown to serve more than 30 million users.