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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
EMI joins anti-Napster suit
British music group EMI has joined the $17bn (10bn) lawsuit launched by music publishers against German media giant Bertelsmann for allegedly supporting music piracy.

The suit revolves around the $100m investment made in the now-defunct Napster song-swapping service by Bertelsmann, itself a member of the Big Five record companies through its BMG subsidiary.

France's Vivendi Universal is already a party to the suit, which was first announced in February.

"By investing both millions of dollars and management resources in Napster - which was an illegal enterprise built on the unlawful distribution of copyrighted works - Bertelsmann enabled and encouraged the wholesale theft of copyrighted music," EMI said in a statement.

Whose fault?

EMI, which has suffered from heavy losses and lacklustre performance in recent years, is the third biggest of the Big Five, the other members of which - aside from BMG - are Universal, Sony and AOL Time Warner.

It is also - with the exception of Bertelsmann's investment in Napster, now owned by CD-burning software vendor Roxio - the one which has done the most to tackle the issue of online music delivery.

But like its fellows, it has consistently blamed services like Napster, and those still running such as Kazaa and Gnutella, for the slide in CD sales in recent years.

Critics, on the other hand, say the blame lies as much with the record companies for concentrating resources on a small number of big artists rather than on promoting lesser known artists, and keeping CD prices artificially high.

Just as important, they say, is the increasing homogenisation of radio as more and more stations are owned by large corporations, reducing the variety of music on offer and thus cutting into consumers' options.

And a recent paper by technology research house Forrester Research showed the increasing number of options for consumer media spending - DVDs, computer games and so on - means a slowing of audio CD sales is almost inevitable.

Online music price war begins
28 May 03  |  Business
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06 May 03  |  Technology
Napster gets a new lease of life
24 Feb 03  |  Business
Bertelsmann sued over Napster
21 Feb 03  |  Business
Napster set to be sold to CD burner
15 Nov 02  |  Business

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