Court: RIAA, Napster to Share Blocking Duties

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Free digital music file sharing service Napster received a bit of good news in the form of a revised injunction issued by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel dividing the responsibility for blocking copyrighted files between Napster and the recording industry, which is suing it for mass copyright infringement.

Under the revised injunction, copyright holders must provide Napster with proof of copyright ownership, song titles, the artists' names and the names of the MP3 files where the songs are stored.

Upon receipt of the information, Napster will have 72 hours to block the files.

"All parties have an obligation to ascertain the actual identity [title and artist name] of the work and to take appropriate action," Patel wrote in her revised injunction.

Also, Napster is responsible for blocking the files once they have been named.

"We are gratified the district court acted so promptly in issuing its injunction requiring Napster to remove infringing works from its system," Hilary Rosen, president/CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said yesterday. "We intend to provide the notifications prescribed by the court expeditiously and look forward to the end of Napster's infringing activity."

CEO Hank Barry said in a statement yesterday that Napster will follow the order.

"As we receive notice from copyright holders as required by the court, we will take every step within the limits of our system to exclude their copyrighted material from being shared," Barry said.

Meanwhile, until Napster's copyright infringement trial with the RIAA is over, "Napster is [prohibited] ... from engaging in, or facilitating others in, copying, downloading, uploading, transmitting or distributing copyrighted sound recordings," the injunction said.

The injunction is the result of an ongoing copyright infringement battle between Napster and the RIAA.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided Feb. 12 with the recording industry in its copyright battle with Napster. A three-judge panel unanimously upheld the RIAA's arguments by confirming that a preliminary injunction against Napster's free digital music file sharing service is "not only warranted but required."

The RIAA filed copyright infringement charges against Napster last year. However, Napster's lawyers received a stay of Patel's original injunction until the appeals court's decision last month. The outcome of the trial is expected to set a strong precedent for copyright protection laws and how they are interpreted online.

Last week, Napster tried persuading Patel to push the injunction back. The company said it had created a way to screen individual file names and that it planned to block some 5,600 songs from being downloaded over the weekend. These songs come from a list that the major record labels submitted to Napster. Songs from the heavy metal band Metallica, a vocal Napster opponent, and rapper Dr. Dre are on the list.

But many of the songs Napster tries to block may still be available. Files with minor misspellings -- or files that are given fake titles in order to avoid detection -- may escape the notice of copyright holders.

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