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Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Metallica fans kicked off MP3 site
James Hetfield
Metallica singer James Hetfield in action
More than 300,000 fans of the heavy metal band Metallica have been blocked from using the MP3 music site Napster after the group complained its copyright was being infringed.

Napster, which allows music fans to search each others' hard drives for MP3 music files, shut down 317,377 accounts of users who were tracking the band.

The names were on a list printed out and hand-delivered to the company's California headquarters by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich last week.


Drummer Lars Ulrich
Lars Ulrich handing in the names last week

The band sued the company last month for copyright infringement and racketeering, arguing that its software encourages users to freely trade their songs without permission.

Napster lawyer Laurence Pulgram said: "Napster has taken extraordinary steps to comply with Metallica's demands to block hundreds of thousands of its fans from using the Napster system."

Napster is also being sued by the US record industry's trade organisation, the Recording Industry Association of America, for copyright infringement.

MP3.com closure

In a separate development, another internet music company, MP3.com, has closed down part of its site while it deals with court action from the RIAA.

The company has stopped users from storing music made by major record companies until the copyright action is resolved.


Napster
Napster: Facing legal action from the US record industry
Earlier this month, a federal judge in New York ruled the company's my.mp3.com service, which allows users access to their own CD collection online for free, infringed the labels' copyrights.

MP3.com said it hoped to reach a settlement with the companies - which include Sony, Warner Bros, Artista, Atlantic and Capitol - and restore the service.

The company's president, Robin Richards, said: "We regret the need to take this step. While we disagree with the court's decision, we also want to demonstrate our good faith and strong desire to achieve an expeditious business solution."

MP3.com, which claims to have around 500,000 customers, originally set out to create a platform for unknown artists.

Unauthorised database

But the US record industry's trade body took action after it launched two new services. One allowed customers to listen to a CD after they had purchased it, the other allowed users to add their own CDs to their own personal online playlist.

While individuals could listen to their CD collections online anyway, MP3 was making it easier for them by offering them access to its database.

The RIAA objected to the unauthorised creation of the database, even though the system cannot work unless the user has an original copy of the copyrighted work.

Judge Jed Rakoff disagreed with MP3.com's claim that its service is the "functional equivalent" of storing CDs that had already been purchased.

"In actuality, the defendant is replaying for the subscribers converted versions of the recordings it copied, without authorisation, from the plaintiffs' copyrighted CDs," he said.

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See also:

09 May 00 | Entertainment
Court blow for Napster
09 May 00 | Entertainment
The music industry's MP3 headache
04 May 00 | Entertainment
Metallica's offline request
30 Apr 00 | Business
MP3.com to fight court ruling
27 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Rapper Dre sues MP3 site
10 May 00 | Business
EMI enters digital music arena
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