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Judge Calls Napster Filters 'Disgraceful'

A federal judge leveled sharp criticism at Napster’s attempts to block trades of copyrighted works Tuesday, calling the company’s existing filters “disgraceful.” Presented with evidence from record companies and publishers that thousands of works ostensibly included in the file-swapping service’s filters were still available, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel said something needed to change.

“I think this is disgraceful,” she said, noting that if a song can be found by people on your service, Napster ought to be able to block it.

If Napster can’t block copyrighted songs, she added, “maybe the system needs to be closed down.” Patel stopped short of ordering Napster to change its filtering technology immediately, saying she first wanted to hear the opinion of a recently appointed technical expert.

The federal judge did not certify class-action lawsuit proposals from music publishers or independent artists. She indicated that the publishers’ suits may gain class-action status later, but the independent artists likely would not.