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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 12:19 GMT
Napster's next step in court
Napster will re-launch early next year
Napster will relaunch early next year
Internet music-swapping service Napster is facing the music industry again in a courtroom to decide how much responsibility each side takes for removing copyright-free songs from the service.

The site, which let music fans download songs without paying royalties, was shut down by an injunction in July - but will re-launch next year.

Napster said record companies must provide it with a list of all the file names they want removed.

But the record labels have given them a list of artists and song titles - and said Napster must go through its database and remove any files that contain those tunes.

Defining case

At its peak, Napster had 60 million users and shocked the record industry into taking notice of the internet and its potential.

The case between Napster and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is closely watched as a defining case on intellectual property on the internet.

The new Napster will also have extra security measures
The new Napster will also have extra security measures
In March, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel refined an earlier injunction because a panel decided it placed too much responsibility on Napster to identify the tracks that were copyright-protected.

"The RIAA has contended it should not have to supply Napster with specific file names," said Matt Oppenheim, the RIAA senior vice president of legal affairs.

The music industry also said Napster should not have to wait to be given specific details before removing something it already knows is infringing copyright.

"The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February that the burden was to be shared by both parties," Napster general counsel Jonathan Schwartz said.

"One of the key elements in this ruling was that the plaintiffs had to submit file names. On this issue, we're asking that the court simply reaffirm its earlier ruling," he said.

Legitimate

Monday's hearing will be held at a federal appeals court in Pasadena, California.

Napster has planned to relaunch as a legitimate service, charging a subscription fee, in "early 2002".

The new music files will also have extra security measures to stop fans copying the song or downloading it onto other machines, if the record companies or artists request it.

But Napster still faces a multi-million-dollar bill for unpaid royalties when the copyright case finally ends.

Lukewarm

The RIAA lawsuit was first filed in December 1999 and is backed by AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony.

The first of the post-Napster download sites backed by the major record labels, MusicNet, launched last week to a lukewarm reception from users.

MusicNet has been put together by Warner, EMI and Bertelsmann as well as online media company RealNetworks.

Vivendi Universal and Sony are planning to launch their own version, Pressplay, in the spring.

See also:

14 Nov 01 | New Media
Henley case may boost Napster
05 Nov 01 | New Media
Major licensing deal for Napster
30 Oct 01 | New Media
Napster 'to re-launch in 2002'
25 Oct 01 | New Media
Napster cuts jobs to survive
04 Dec 01 | New Media
MusicNet launches battle for fans
16 Oct 01 | New Media
Download sites face more scrutiny
28 Nov 01 | New Media
Madonna added to download service
19 Nov 01 | New Media
HMV begins music downloads
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