July 27, 2000
Judge Grants Napster Injunction
Software allows users worldwide to easily connect with one
another and send and receive digital music files among themselves
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal
judge Wednesday gave the wildly popular song-swapping Web site Napster
until Friday midnight PDT to shut down the trading of copyright
material by its 20 million users. The Recording Industry Association
of America filed suit in December. In granting its request for a
preliminary injunction, Judge Marilyn Patel said, ''A strong case
has been made. ... I just can't let this go on.''
Napster software allows computer
users worldwide to easily connect with one another and send and
receive digital music files among themselves for free. It's ''essentially
a system created to facilitate the downloading of music - piracy
be damned,'' she said in a ruling that immediately followed a brief
hearing. Napster will file an emergency appeal Thursday. If a stay
is not granted, Napster attorney David Boies said, the service ''will
look radically different.'' Boies told the judge it was impossible
to determine which of thousands of songs on the service were protected
by copyright. Patel said they'd have to ''figure out a way... (Napster)
has created this monster, and these are the consequences they face.''
Howard King, attorney for rapper Dr. Dre
and rock group Metallica in separate lawsuits against Napster, predicted
the service will look like a ''blank screen'' Saturday. ''They'll
direct you to the chat room, talk about the case and urge members
to write their congressmen - all the things you would expect.''
The record industry and music publishers
were required to put up a $5 million bond against Napster's potential
losses pending a full trial, not yet scheduled.
The ruling has broad implications for creative
works in an online world and for the increasingly popular file-sharing
systems via such sites as Scour and iMesh. ''Napster is a high-profile
site, and more power to the RIAA'' for getting it shut down, said
analyst Adam Holiber from Wedbush Morgan Securities. ''But if it
is not Napster, it is going to be another system that is not possible
to shut down. The technology will always be way ahead of the courts.
©2000 Clovis Free Press. All rights reserved.