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Napster settlement taking a long time to download

A federal judge’s deadline has passed, but the recording industry still has not settled its 3-year-old copyright infringement case against Napster, the online music-sharing company said Tuesday. Last month, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel agreed to a 30-day delay in the lawsuit brought by major record labels. They accuse Napster of violating copyright laws by allowing millions of Internet users to share unauthorized digital music over the Web. Patel’s deadline expired Tuesday, and no deal was reached.

The recording industry is seeking a ruling that finds Napster liable for copyright infringement, and it wants to seek damages. A pending motion is before the judge.

Napster chief executive officer Konrad Hilbers held out hope an agreement would develop soon. The once-popular song-swapping service is seeking legitimacy and wants to launch a pay-for-play service with the labels’ music.

“Napster is continuing our settlement and licensing discussion with the major labels, and we remain confident that agreements can be reached in the near term,” Hilbers said.

The Recording Industry Association of America and various record labels did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Last month, Patel said Napster raised “significant issues” about whether the recording industry was monopolizing its music.

Terms of settlement negotiations were not disclosed, but insiders said Napster is seeking licensing agreements that would allow listeners to download music onto portable devices and to burn songs onto discs.

In February 2001, Napster made a highly-publicized $1 billion offer to settle the case if the major labels would license their catalogs to the Redwood City-based company. The record labels rejected the offer. Napster’s free service was shut down last July.

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