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Sunday, 11 February, 2001, 10:05 GMT
Napster fans rush to download
napster graphic
Nearly 10,000 people logged on Saturday to just one of Napster's computer servers
Napster has been inundated by thousands of fans fearing the online song-sharing service will be taken offline by a key legal ruling.

Nearly 10,000 people logged on Saturday to just one of Napster's computer servers sharing nearly 2 million free MP3 song files, compared to a sample taken last July which found 7,300 users sharing 800,000 files.


We have great confidence in our legal position

Napster
The rush to download comes ahead of Monday's ruling by a US federal appeals court on whether to slap an injunction on Napster which would effectively shut down the service.

The court battle is being seen as the first big struggle over copyrights in cyberspace, and is expected to define how books, movies and music are distributed on the internet.

Napster confidence

Napster has remained confident that its service will withstand the legal test, saying: "We have great confidence in our legal position."

Despite allegations of illegal trading via the service, Napster's base of registered users has exploded to around 50 million.


Monday's decision may finally clear the way for the legitimate online marketplace to thrive in an environment that encourages both creativity and a respect for copyright

RIAA president Hilary Rosen
The popularity of the online song-sharing services has challenged major record labels to consider different methods of reaching consumers online.

The Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group representing record labels, argues Napster illegally connects users bent on giving away copyrighted material without permission.

"Monday's decision may finally clear the way for the legitimate online marketplace to thrive in an environment that encourages both creativity and a respect for copyright," said RIAA president Hilary Rosen.

Legal minefield

The question before the the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals is whether to remove Napster from the internet or allow it to keep operating while that case continues.

PC users
Napster could be effectively shut down on Monday
In a ruling in July last year, a US district court judge said Napster was guilty of wholesale copyright infringement and ordered it shut down pending a full trial.

But the appeal court granted a last-minute stay, saying it needed more time to consider.

Industry observers expect that if an injunction is ordered, it could take days or weeks to take effect and that Napster's legal team would appeal against it.

If the injunction is overturned, the recording companies involved in this case, could take it to the Supreme Court.

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See also:

10 Feb 01 | Business
Anxious weekend for Napster
30 Jan 01 | Business
Napster confirms membership charge
10 Nov 00 | Business
Bertelsmann approaches EMI
15 Nov 00 | Entertainment
MP3.com strikes Universal deal
18 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
How to produce pirate-proof pop
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