Out of Tune: Napster Receives First RIAA List of Songs to Block

Free digital music file sharing service Napster has received a list of 135,000 copyrighted songs that record labels want blocked from downloading.

In a newsletter sent Sunday to its users, Napster said, “We've already received some removal notices, and we expect the record and music publishing companies to send many more.”

The Recording Industry Association of America, the umbrella organization for the country's major record companies, sued Napster for mass copyright infringement in December 1999. The organization sent Napster the first wave of song lists late Friday following a revised injunction issued March 5 by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel.

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.”

Napster has three business days to block access to the files in order to comply with the revised injunction.

The RIAA has fulfilled its responsibility under the injunction by providing Napster with the names of copyrighted songs.

The company has experimented with blocking files over the past week but reportedly has had trouble blocking ones with misspellings in the title or artist name.

In a move to thwart the blocking system, Canadian tech firm PulseNewMedia has developed software that uses pig Latin to alter the names of MP3 files. With the software, MP3 files containing music from heavy metal band Metallica, a vocal Napster opponent, would be known as “Etallicamay.”

The company reports that its software has been downloaded 20,000 times.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act criminalizes reverse encryption schemes, so Napster would need to remove pig Latin titles one by one in order to stay within the law.

Napster and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are expected to take on great importance April 3 when the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the future of digital media.

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