Napster to court: Labels are overzealous

The brief, submitted Wednesday to the Ninth Circuit of the US District Court, alleges that though Napster has taken action to block infringing files for its system, the record labels have not held up their end of the injunction order by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in early March. That order requires the record companies suing Napster -- BMG Entertainment, Warner Bros. Music Group, EMI Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group -- to provide artist/song title combinations, filenames and proof of ownership to Napster in order for those songs to be blocked. Napster then has three days to add the songs to its "negative database," the database of blocked material.

Napster said in its brief, however, that the record labels have made only "meagre attempts" to comply with the injunction and that it is blocking more songs than it ought to be because of poor work on the part of the labels.

According to the brief, the record company lists "reflect ...no human attempt ... to ascertain the actual identity of the work," but rather have used Napster's own search engine to compile their lists, thus creating lists which block files that share only one or two words with those that ought to be blocked, i.e. songs by The Band are also listed with those by the Dave Matthews Band.

Another problem comes with works that have been recorded by multiple artists, according to the brief. An example given is Sony's claim to the song "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". 96 files of the song are listed by Sony as items to be blocked, but in fact none contain the file Sony owns, according to Napster, resulting in "a clear violation of .... the Court's Orders, which requires the Plaintiffs to ascertain the actual identity of the file names before submitting them."

Labels have also sought to exclude files which were previously authorised by both bands and their record companies for distribution over Napster's service, the brief states.

As a result of discovering these mistakes, Napster hired Rajeev Motwani, a professor at Stanford University to audit the lists. Motwani found that as many as 700,000 files were being wrongly excluded.

In total, the company said it has blocked over 228,000 artist/song pairs and over 1.3 million total files since the filtering began two weeks ago. Activity on the network is also down significantly, it said, noting that the average Napster user is now sharing 50 per cent fewer songs than before the filters were installed.

"Napster continues to comply with the letter and spirit of the Court's injunction," the brief said, noting that it has signed an agreement with Gracenote (formerly CDDB) to aid in filtering of copyrighted works and that it succeeded in persuading another file-sharing firm, Aimster, to remove the Pig Latin encoder the company had been providing for users to sidestep the filters.

However, Napster said it is working with the labels "at its peril". To rectify the problems that have surfaced, Napster asked the court to order the labels to review their lists before submitting them, to extend the 72-hour compliance period to allow Napster to validate the lists before implementing them and to order the labels to compensate Napster for the time and expense incurred by adding, validating and removing incorrect files from its database. Napster also asked that it be able to make the lists of songs submitted by the record companies available to the press, though not to the public. The labels have so far claimed that the lists are confidential.

Napster was sued in December 1999 for copyright infringement.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sam Costello

PC World
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?