Napster Update: Debate Heats Up As Company Receives A Stay Of Execution

Posted: August 5, 2000 in Music
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On July 28th A U.S. District Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted a temporary stay of an injunction that would have effectively shut the MP3-swapping service down.

Napster, Inc. filed for the stay on the 27th, less than 24 hours after a federal judge had ordered the company to remove all copyrighted material from its service pending a trial this fall concerning the copyright  infringement lawsuit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

In court documents, two circuit court judges for the Court of Appeals noted that Napster had “raised substantial questions of first impression going to both the merits and the form of the injunction” and granted an emergency stay.

Prince, who was one of the first artists to turn to the Web as a means of distributing his music, has posted an essay titled “4 The Love Of Music” at his site in which he comments on the matter.

In response to a recent Los Angeles Times interview with Richard D. Parsons, President of Time Warner Inc., Prince notes that the heart of the Napster issues isn’t copyright infringement, but lost revenue streams.

“The record company doesn’t really care about [copyright infringement],” he claims.  “All it cares about is some kid downloading the MP3 file for the one hit song on the latest release they put out with a huge promotional campaign, hoping to sell 2 million copies when there is only one decent song on it.  They don’t care about the principle of it, they care about the lost revenues.”

In the lengthy essay he predicts that as the digital revolution continues fans and users will find a way to reimburse the artists for downloading their works, a position touted by Billy Corgan, Courtney Love and of all people Stephen King.

Throughout the piece he reiterates his belief that Napster has helped bring the hypocrisy of the current system to light and that it will help bring an end to the exploitation of artists by their labels.

In the next phase of the injunction hearing, the RIAA will be responding to the opening brief Napster delivered to the full appellate court on August 18th.  The RIAA’s responding brief is due on September 8th, with Napster having the option of replying to that brief on September 12th.

Oral arguments before the appeals court will then be scheduled for the next available calendar days after all briefs have been submitted and reviewed.  I’ll keep you posted.


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