Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994

News Brief - March 2001:

Federal Courts Put Napster in Line with Copyrights Law - Free Web Music Swapping Company Ordered to Move Quickly

In February, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld Federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel's ruling last summer ordering Napster to drastically cut back its web service for swapping music. The appeals court also held that the company was liable for the copyright infringement for the actions of its 50 million-odd users, according to The Wall Street Journal in February."With many thousands of music files downloaded every second on the service, Napster could find itself facing billions of dollars in damages in civil suits from the major record labels, music publishers and others," said writers in The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal immediately questioned whether Napster could continue to operate.

The appeals court sent the case back to Judge Patel to proceed with. In March, she ordered Napster to get all the titles for free copyrighted music out of its computers right away. She set up a procedure by which Napster would block all titles on lists provided by record labels and music publishers and others. As these lists continue being submitted, they are expected to swell to millions of titles that Napster will have to block.

The rulings were nearly a complete victory for the record industry over the eighteen-months of free-loading on copyrighted music that Napster made possible, according to The Wall Street Journal in March. The record industry has said that, where it finds infringements, it will also pursue other music-swapping companies such as Gnutella, which have less convenient systems for free music exchanges.

(March 2001)

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