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BBC's David Willis in Los Angeles
"The decision is being hailed as a victory for the recording industry"
 real 28k

Thursday, 27 July, 2000, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Record industry backs Napster closure
Napster founder Shawn Fanning
Napster founder Shawn Fanning leaves the courtroom
Music industry figures in the US and UK have welcomed a US judge's decision to close down the MP3 file-swapping service Napster.

Sharing is such a warm, cuddly, friendly word...this is not sharing, it's duplicating

Lars Ulrich, Metallica
Chief District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel granted the injunction on Wednesday in San Francisco at the request of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which sued Napster in December for copyright infringement.

Napster allows users to download a program which allows them to search each others' hard drives for highly compressed MP3 music files.

The judge said Napster had "created a monster, for lack of a better term".

In the UK, the British Phonographic Industry's Sarah Roberts called the decision "an important precedent".

David Boies
Napster lawyer David Boies was involved in the successful Microsoft anti-trust case
She told BBC News Online: "The verdict will pave the way for Napster and other services like it to work with record companies.

She supported the exposure new artists were able to get using music-sharing websites, saying: "If you want to give away your work for free that's fine."

But she added: "But on Napster most files are by mainstream artists. Creators of music deserve a reward."

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich - a critic of the site - said his band was "elated".

"Sharing is such a warm, cuddly, friendly word. This is not sharing, it's duplicating," he added.

"We are pleased with the court's decision. The decision will pave the way for the future of online music," said Cary Sherman, a lawyer representing the RIAA.

"This once again establishes that the rules of the road are the same online as they are offline, and sends a strong message to others that they cannot build a business based on others' copyrighted work without permission," Sherman added.

A recent survey showed Napster encouraged music sales
Napster chief executive Hank Barry said the company planned to appeal: "We intend to see this through in every venue, in every court."

But Napster's attorney, David Boies, was less optimistic.

"I think that a settlement, frankly, is unlikely," he said.

Other observers spoke of the implications for the future.

"All of this litigation is really setting the groundwork for what is going to the future of the internet," said Larry Iser, a US-based intellectual property lawyer.

Gene Hoffman of the online music seller, eMusic, said: "What Napster has really done is educated the market place that this is a great application and this is how people would like to use music in the future."

Napster claims to have 20 million users worldwide - and many of them were unhappy with the verdict.

Among the respondents to BBC News Online's Talking Point page was Brian L from the US, who said: "The record companies are doing themselves a disservice by fighting emerging technologies rather than embracing them and shepherding their entrance into the marketplace."

Jim Holmes from the UK foresaw Napster being replaced by "something more distributed, more anarchic, and impossible to control".

Napster is due to close at 0800 BST on Saturday morning.

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