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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 10:15 GMT
Napster wins time to settle
Napster: Making "good faith efforts" for a settlement
A US judge has postponed a pending copyright infringement legal case against the online music site Napster.

The decision comes after lawyers for Napster and some of the major record labels suing the online song-swapping site asked for more time to try to reach a settlement.

Five major record companies, including EMI and Sony, are asking San Francisco federal judge Marilyn Hall Patel to award them an estimated $21m (15m) for past copyright infringement.

The companies originally sued Napster in 1999 for wholesale copyright infringement for having allowed users to exchange songs without paying any fees.

Shawn Fanning
Napster founder Shawn Fanning after his service was shut down

Napster claimed some 70 million worldwide users before it shut down in July 2000 after the record labels obtained a preliminary injunction against it.

Napster chief executive Konrad Hilbers said he was now confident that the "good faith efforts that the parties have put into settlement and licensing discussions" would bring litigation to a conclusion within weeks.

A settlement would remove the last barrier to Napster's launch of its new membership service, he added.

Earlier this month, Napster launched a version of that new, legal service.

The long-awaited relaunch offered only a beta, or test, version to a selected group of 20,000 users.

Testers were chosen at random from millions of users who offered their services.

The beta version includes more than 100,000 music files - but it does not include any major record label content.

Napster has said the full version will probably not be launched until March, by which time it expects to have some content from major labels to offer.

No limit

The beta test is free, but the relaunched Napster will cost between $5 (3.46) and $10 (6.92) a month.

Users will be allowed 50 downloads per month - with no limit on the total number of downloaded files the user can have at any one time.

The new service will also will offer two types of files - standard MP3 music files and "nap" files, which are MP3s with the addition of a protective layer that prevents them being copied off the host computer or burned onto CDs.

There will be a "buy" button allowing users to click on a song and buy the related album from music retail site CDNow.

CDNow, like Napster, is owned by the Bertelsmann group - which also owns the music major BMG.

See also:

10 Jan 02 | New Media
Napster tests legal song-swap service
07 Jan 02 | New Media
Music industry mulls digital future
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