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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 18:02 GMT
Napster delayed despite legal win
Launching a legal Napster is proving a long haul
The long-awaited relaunch of online music-swapping service Napster has been delayed again - for up to nine months.

This is due to difficulties in licensing music for use online, Napster chief executive Konrad Hilbers has said.

The announcement follows the upholding of a court ban imposed on the Napster service won by US music companies in July 2001.

Napster has a licensing agreement with MusicNet
But in a separate move, US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel has ordered the record companies to give Napster more than 500,000 pages of documents on their own intentions to set up rival online music offerings.

Warner Music, EMI, Universal Music and Sony Music must turn over the documents during the next month.

The judge also gave Napster almost 10 months to try and prove the labels were deliberately withholding their copyright music, to stop it from relaunching.

BMG, the music division of Bertelsmann, has also been required to submit its plans to Napster - although the two companies formed a surprise alliance in 2000 when BMG was involved in a group legal action against Napster.


Since the shutdown Napster, in an alliance with the Bertelsmann group, has been attempting to restart as a legal, paid-for service.

Shawn Fanning started the service as a 19-year-old
Shawn Fanning started the service as a 19-year-old
But Napster's relaunch has been repeatedly delayed for technical and legal reasons, largely to do with the problem of licensing enough music for the service.

Napster boss Konrad Hilbers is now reported to be negotiating another round of financing from its partner Bertlesmann.

Mr Hilbers also plans to restart licensing talks with the big music corporations, who he says have been trying to squeeze Napster out of the online music distribution market.


The US Justice Department has been investigating possible antitrust issues at the big labels for their formation of two online joint ventures, MusicNet and Pressplay.

Those ventures, each launched within the last six months, are developing subscription systems for music downloads.

Napster was entitled to look at their internal record company documents, said Judge Patel.

MusicNet, the joint venture of Warner Music, BMG and EMI along with RealNetworks, has entered a licensing agreement with Napster.

But Napster claims that it is still not able to access enough content to relaunch itself.

It says the record labels should not get extensive damages for its use of their copyright music without permission, if it was proved they had withheld the copyright to block competition.

See also:

26 Mar 02 | New Media
Napster must stay shut down
23 Feb 02 | Business
Judge grants Napster respite
10 Jan 02 | New Media
Napster tests legal song-swap service
20 Feb 02 | New Media
Digital music deadline expires
24 Jan 02 | New Media
Napster wins time to settle
08 Feb 02 | New Media
Music industry's digital plans 'fail'
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