Napster Bars Over 317,000 Names From Web site

According to a report published this morning,
Napster, Inc. announced Tuesday evening that it has blocked more than 317,000 names used by its subscribers, which have been identified by
the hard rock band, Metallica, as allegedly infringing on the copyrights of the group's music. The move by Napster to remove the names comes during a lawsuit brought against it by Metallica and the group's music publishing
companies. The lawsuit alleges that the service provided by Napster facilitates copyright infringement because users of Napster software
can replicate and trade Metallica music with others without paying a license fee to the band.

Similar separate lawsuits, brought by the Recording Industry
Association of America (RIAA) and rap music artist, Dr. Dre, are also
currently pending against Napster in federal court.

Last week, the rock group's drummer and their attorney delivered 13
boxes containing the names of Napster users who they claimed were
infringing Metallica copyrights to Napster's San Mateo, Calif.,
headquarters, demanding that these names be removed from Napster's
list of users. At that time, Napster's attorney called the delivery
of the boxes of names a "photo opp."

The move by Napster to remove the more than 300,000 user names comes
after an adverse ruling against it was handed down on Monday by Chief
Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California (San Francisco). The ruling was made
in the lawsuit brought against Napster by the RIAA.


In her ruling, Judge Patel rejected Napster's claim that it was
exempt from liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of
1998 (DCMA) because it was merely providing a service, similar to
that of an ISP (Internet service provider) and was not, itself,
copying any recorded music. Napster said that it was not responsible
for how its users used the service, but that if any users were
deemed to have acted improperly, their names would be stricken off
Napster's user list.


While Judge Patel's ruling is applicable in the RIAA case only, it
is expected to be a precursor of how the court will rule in the
Metallica and Dr. Dre cases. The RIAA case is still pending, and
Judge Patel's ruling only means that she finds the DCMA applicable
to Napster; but, it is not a ruling on whether Napster's conduct
actually violated the provisions of the DCMA.

The action by Napster to remove the names of its subscribers, many
of which are reported to be aliases, may be a hollow victory for
Metallica. A barred user could log on to Napster's Website under a
new name or alias and engage in the allegedly infringing conduct all
over again.

Neither Napster's nor Metallica's attorneys could be reached for
comment.


Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com

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