Injunction Could Shut Napster Before Copyright Trial

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U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel on Friday said she would begin work on a new injunction that could pull the plug on Napster Inc. before its copyright trial with the Recording Industry Association of America begins.

No timeline for completion was announced.

"The matter is submitted and I will issue some kind of preliminary injunction," Judge Patel said after hearing arguments from both sides.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Feb. 12 sided with the recording industry in its copyright battle with Napster Inc. The three judges 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 Judge Patel's original injunction until the appeals court's decision earlier this month. The outcome of the trial is expected to set a strong precedent for copyright protection laws and how they are interpreted online.

On Friday, Napster tried persuading Patel into pushing the injunction back. The company said it has 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 submitted to Napster by the major record labels. "Music" from the heavy metal band Metallica, a vocal Napster opponent, is on the list.

The RIAA told Patel any delays give copyright scofflaws more time to download protected music.

RIAA president and CEO Hilary Rosen said "We are grateful for the court's diligent efforts to fashion an appropriate injunction and look forward to an order which makes cleat that the infringing part of Napster's business --taking music which isn't theirs and giving it away -- must come to an end.

Napster officials could not be reached for comment.

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