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Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Napster closure threat

The recording industry has asked a US federal court judge for a preliminary injunction to shut down Napster, the popular internet music-sharing service.

The powerful Recording Industry Association of America argues that Napster is "facilitating or assisting others in, the copying, downloading, uploading, transmission or distribution of copyrighted musical works".

This is not just about online versus offline... (Napster) is legally and morally wrong

Hilary Rosen, RIAA

"The online business community recognises that what Napster is doing threatens legitimate e-commerce models," said RIAA President Hilary Rosen.

Napster allows users to download free software that enables them to index and exchange MP3 audio files with other Internet users.

Officials from the Napster have not yet commented on the latest court proceedings.

Industry attorneys referred to a study by the Field Research Corporation of 2,555 college students who are internet users, showing a direct link between Napster use and decreased CD sales.

Hard task

While Napster's central servers can be ordered offline by the court, the distribution network which allows users to share files online would be far harder to close down.

It would require hundreds of thousands of injunctions to halt the widespread trading of content online.

The RIAA first sued Napster in December for copyright infringement and related state law violations, asserting that Napster encouraged music piracy via the Internet through its software and computer servers.

The latest actions were bolstered by declarations filed by Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti and CEO Michael Robertson.

"If Napster can encourage and facilitate the distribution of pirated sound recordings, then what's to stop it from doing the same to movies, software, books, magazines, newspapers, television, photographs or video games?" said Mr Valenti.

New ally

A curious new ally in the battle against Napster is supremo Michael Robertson, who last week settled with major recording labels seeking to halt his company's "Instant Listening Service".

That feature of allows users to purchase CDs via the website and listen to them online before they are physically delivered to the buyer.

The recording industry cried foul, subsequently settled with, but has now entered into a new licensing agreement to allow the service.

Mr Robertson is concerned that the work of his website's fledgling artists are being given away through Napster.

"Any such distribution would cause potential detriment to both and the artists who upload their music to the website," he said.

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See also:

09 Jun 00 | Business settles suit
09 May 00 | Entertainment
Court blow for Napster
04 May 00 | Entertainment
Metallica's offline request
27 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Rapper Dre sues MP3 site
10 May 00 | Business
EMI enters digital music arena
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