Record labels suing Napster for copyright infringement are “attempting the near monopolization of the digital distribution market. The resulting injury affects both Napster and the public interest,” District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel has finally deduced.
The judge, who has appeared biased in favor of the recording industry throughout most of the marathon proceedings, has done an about face in view of the industry’s dealings with its on-line distribution vehicles MusicNet and PressPlay, which Patel senses were created as mere arms of the labels.
“These ventures look bad, smell bad and sound bad,” she wrote.
Indeed, only a fool would take them at face value. “MusicNet did not suddenly appear full-blown from the head of a fictitious entity,” Patel added. The labels “cannot hide behind the shell of a joint venture to protect themselves from misuse claims. The court views with great suspicion claims of ignorance as to MusicNet’s activities.”
So Patel is going to allow Napter to pursue avenues of defence which will involve scrutiny of the industry’s licensing and distribution practices in light of antitrust regulations.
Incredibly, RIAA Executive VP Cary Sherman said in a statement that the organization “look[s] forward to providing the Court with evidence to refute Napster’s claims.”