By now most of you have heard that on Friday at midnight, Napster will be shutdown, pending the results of the trial. This will come as a tremendous hit to the MP3 community (Click more, for full story). However someones already picking up the slack. Scour.net. With whom you may recall the Scour Media Agent. Has released a new program similar to that of Napster, The Scour Exchange. This application allows you to not only share MP3's, but also Video, images, & more. I've yet to try the program yet, however I shortly will. Please visit their website for more information. SX.SCOUR>COM.
U.S. judge pulls plug on Napster
By Sue Zeidler
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Handing the record industry a major win in the battle over copyrights and the Internet, a federal judge Wednesday effectively shut down Napster Inc., saying the wildly popular song-swapping service looked like a simple cover for music piracy.
U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, issuing a preliminary injunction requested by the Recording Industry of Association of America (RIAA), said millions of Napster users were engaged in ``wholesale'' copyright infringement by trading their favorite songs over the Internet.
``The question is, you have designed a system enabling infringing and piracy. Can you stand back and say 'we didn't know that'?'' Patel said before ordering Napster to cease trade in music covered by RIAA-member copyrights by midnight on Friday
Patel's order prompted an immediate rush by music-hungry Napster users to the company Web site seeking to download songs before the Friday deadline.
``I've never seen so many people on it like this,'' said Cary Miller, a TV executive and Napster user who signed on to the service after news of Patel's ruling came out.
``About three-quarters of a million songs are being listed on this one server alone and they have multiple servers. And it's only going to get worse before the injunction,'' he said.
RECORD COMPANIES REJOICE
As the feverish downloading gained pace at the Napster site, recording industry lawyers reveled in the victory for their giant corporate clients, which had targeted Napster as a high-tech haven for piracy and copyright infringement.
But it is far from the last word in a case which has pitted new technology against old laws and sparked concern among everyone from heavy metal rockers Metallica to America's most powerful corporate directors.
``This once again establishes that the rules of the road are the same online as they are offline, and sends a strong message to others that they cannot build a business based on others' copyrighted work without permission,'' said Cary Sherman, a lawyer representing the RIAA.
Napster Chief Executive Hank Barry said his legal team -- which includes top gun lawyer David Boies, best known as the lead attorney for the Justice Department in the Microsoft case -- would work around the clock ahead of the Friday deadline, and planned to file an appeal of Patel's decision as early as Thursday morning.
``The judge issued an order which basically would have the effect of shutting down Napster,'' Barry said in a Webcast to the service's users Wednesday.
``The judge's ruling essentially is that one-to-one, non-commercial file-sharing violates the law,'' Barry said. ''We'll fight this in a variety of ways, to keep the Napster community going and strong.''
SWAPPING SONGS ONLINE
Napster works by letting fans swap songs free of charge by trading MP3 files, a compression format that turns music on compact discs into small computer files that can be easily sent back and forth over the Internet.
It has become one of the most prominent of a number of new, Internet-based services that are challenging old concepts of copyrighted material and consumer sales.
Napster says its users are not violating copyrights because they are sharing music for noncommercial or ``fair'' use, citing the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) of 1992.
But the RIAA, which represents companies such Seagram Co. Ltd.'s Universal Music, Bertelsmann AG's BMG, Sony Corp.'s Sony Music and Time Warner's Warner Music Group and EMI, contends that no court has ever held that wholesale copying and distribution of copyrighted works could be considered ``fair use.''
Patel, in her ruling, appeared to agree, saying it was hard to envision applying the ``fair use'' principle to a worldwide service of some 20 million users like Napster.
``Computers are not within the meaning of the statute,'' Patel said, adding that since Napster came up with the file-sharing software, it was up to the company to figure out a way to make it compliant with copyright law. ``They created the monster,'' Patel said.
NEXT STEP A FULL TRIAL?
Both sides now must gird for the next step in the battle, a full trial over the future of music and copyright law.
Many industry analysts expect the legal pressure to boost efforts on both sides to come to some sort of compromise which will extend copyright protection to music which is distributed over the Internet -- although, for the moment, the recording industry was satisfied that it had the upper hand.
``This is an important win for artists, too, because whether they distribute their music through big labels, small independent labels, or on their own, the Court has made clear that they have the right to protect their works,'' Sherman said in a statement. ``Whether they choose to do so is up to them. But the choice is theirs to make.''
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