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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Napster lays off more staff
Napster logo
Song-swapping service Napster has laid off 30 employees, its third round of job cuts since October.

The troubled business has yet to relaunch itself as a legal music download service since going offline in July 2001.

Chief executive Konrad Hilbers says the company is still committed to relaunching as a paid-for subscription service.

But he admitted there was a need to streamline its operations.

"We have full confidence that our remaining team can provide the strategic know-how and technical guidance to effectively prepare for the launch of the new service," said Mr Hilbers.

Shawn Fanning started the service as a 19-year-old
Shawn Fanning started Napster at the age of 19

An initial 16 employees were made redundant in October followed by the axing of 10% of the workforce in March.

It is unclear how many staff are still employed at the company.

Legal wrangles

The internet site which offered users the chance to download music for free was closed down after legal pressure from the big music publishers.

Several dates had been set for a relaunch but these were passed because of technical problems and continued legal wrangles.

It could now be put off until the end of 2002 due to difficulties in securing music licensing deals.

The big music companies have since launched their own sites, prominently Pressplay and MusicNet.

German media giant Bertelsmann has made a formal offer to buy Napster, intending to buy out its original shareholders.

Bertelsmann was one of the original companies involved in lawsuits against the site but has since joined forces with it.

Its has an ambition to take over the company completely and relaunch it as a legal service.

Bertelsmann has not divulged the size of its offer, but observers estimate the bid at 15-30m.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Business
Bertelsmann 'steps up' Napster bid
27 Mar 02 | New Media
Napster delayed despite legal win
20 Feb 02 | New Media
Digital music deadline expires
10 Jan 02 | New Media
Napster tests legal song-swap service
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