Napster timeline

March 2001: The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) files a brief that says Napster has intentionally shirked its obligations as laid down by the injunction from US District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel.

March 2001: Napster says the record labels have "placed a serious and inappropriate economic and physical burden on Napster, [resulting] in significant over-exclusion of legitimate ... files." The brief, submitted to the 9th Circuit of the US District Court, states that although Napster has taken action to block infringing files from its system, the record labels have not held up their end of the bargain. Record labels have made "meagre attempts" to comply with Judge Patel's injunction, Napster contends, and claims it is blocking more songs than it ought to because the record labels are not supplying it with appropriate information.

March 2001: The record industry supplies Napster with a list of 135,000 songs to be removed from the service, however Napster removes only 115,000 contending that the copyright holders failed to follow procedures set by Judge Patel for identifying allegedly infringing songs.

March 2001: Emusic.com and the producers of the Grammy Awards sue Napster.

March 2001: Vivendi Universal Chairman Jean-Marie Messier indicates he may be willing to do business with Napster. Universal Music Group is the world's largest label.

March 2001: Judge Patel gives Napster a reprieve, issuing an injunction putting the burden of notification on the recording industry. The injunction requires that the plaintiffs provide four pieces of information to Napster for the songs to be blocked: title of work to be blocked, name of the artist, one or more filenames the song was available as on Napster, and certification the plaintiffs own the work.

March 2001: Napster implements a file-filtering system meant to block users from downloading a preliminary list of song titles provided by attorneys for the record industry.

February 2001: The 9th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals rules that Napster infringes on record company copyrights through the operation of its music file-trading service. The ruling also directs the Napster service be allowed to continue operating until the original injunction is modified to comply with the appeals court's decision. The three-judge panel agrees that the record companies have shown that "Napster users infringe at least two of the copyright holders' exclusive rights: the rights of reproduction and distribution."

February 2001: Napster announces plans to move to a membership-based service as soon as possible.

February 2001: In an attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement, Judge Patel appoints former federal judge Eugene Lynch as mediator for Napster and the RIAA.

February 2001: Napster offers the RIAA $US1 billion for the record companies in return for rights to their music, the initiative is mocked by recording industry representatives.

January 2001: The Dave Matthews Band becomes the first major-label band to officially distribute a song to the file-sharing program with the label's permission.

January 2001: Napster announces a tie-up with Germany's edel Music, one of the world's largest independent music labels, giving Napster access to edel-owned titles.

January 2001: TVT Records, one of the US' largest independent music labels, which has artists such as Nine Inch Nails and Snoop Dogg, says it has dropped its copyright infringement suit against Napster.

December 2000: US Senator Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, emerges as a key player in the congressional battle over Napster and other online entertainment services. Hatch says he has recorded 10 CDs of his own and his fans have posted his songs on Napster. Napster hires Manus Cooney, one of Hatch's key policy advisers, to oversee policy issues that affect Napster.

December 2000: Weeks after Napster and Bertelsmann form an alliance, Bertelsmann answers charges from German law-enforcement authorities that the online music exchange enables the spread of right-wing extremist music.

November 2000: Two top Bertelsmann executives step down days after the company joined forces with its former nemesis, Napster.

November 2000: Emusic.com launches software to prevent songs licensed by EMusic from being downloaded through Napster services.

October 2000: A three-judge federal appeals court panel hears arguments about whether Napster service should continue during the trial. The panel upholds the stay of an injunction against Napster. Napster attorney David Boies repeatedly underscores that Napster simply provides users with a means to trade songs and does not, as a company, directly violate copyright. While he contends that Napster users are the ones who actually infringe on copyrights, Boies said that non-infringing copyright use remains on the rise and contends that many titles on the site do not have copyright restrictions.

October 2000: Bertelsmann announces an alliance with Napster to develop its file-sharing system into a membership-based service. The German media and publishing giant says it will drop its lawsuit against Napster when a membership-based service is in place.

September 2000: The federal government argues that Napster is not protected by the Home Recording Act of 1992, as Napster had claimed. The US Copyright Office rules that Napster's service falls outside of the definitions used in the Home Recording Act, which allows the public to make copies of music for personal use.

September 2000: The RIAA requests that the appellate court uphold the ruling to shut down Napster's service. The Motion Picture Association of American and the Business Software Alliance also chime in on the case, along with 19 other groups representing artists, by each filing friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the recording industry's case.

September 2000: Napster sends its final brief to the US Court of Appeals before it meets with the RIAA in court on 2 October.

September 2000: The attorney for Metallica and Dr. Dre sends letters to Harvard, Columbia and other prominent universities asking the institutions to restrict students' access to Napster. The universities refuse.

August 2000: Napster lawyers file their legal arguments against Patel's order.

July 2000: The US Senate Judiciary Committee hears statements from eight witnesses about the controversy over downloadable music available on the Internet. Witnesses include Lars Ulrich of Metallica; Michael Robertson, chairman and CEO of MP3.com; and Hank Barry, CEO of Napster. Ulrich says that Congress needs to pass new laws to protect copyrighted music against Napster and other music-download services.

July 2000: Judge Patel issues a preliminary injunction to shut down Napster, saying the Web site infringes copyrights held by record labels and composers. Patel tells Napster it is responsible for removing all of the plaintiffs' copyrighted music from its service. After the ruling, Napster argues that it is technologically impossible to remove the works in question. Patel disagrees. Napster immediately appeals her ruling and just hours before the site is set to shut down, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals issues a stay on the preliminary injunction until a full appeal is heard.

June 2000: Defending itself against the legal onslaught of the recording industry, Napster argues that it is simply an Internet service provider.

June 2000: David Boies, lead attorney in the US Department of Justice challenge of Microsoft, is hired by Napster to help the company fend off copyright violation charges filed by the RIAA, Metallica and Dr. Dre.

June 2000: The 30,000 Napster users who said that they were mistakenly accused of trading Metallica's copyrighted songs have their Napster accounts reinstated.

June 2000: The RIAA files a motion for preliminary injunction against Napster to have all major-label content removed from Napster's system.

May 2000: Judge Patel rejects Napster's motion for summary judgment as part of its defence in the lawsuit brought against it by RIAA. Napster contends it was protected by Section 512(a) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, claiming it is only a "conduit" for information. Patel's decision means the lawsuit will go to trial.

May 2000: The House Small Business Committee discusses the growing popularity of online music services. Rapper Chuck D, representing pro-Napster groups, tells the committee that the Internet poses a unique opportunity for consumers and artists. Rap-metal band Limp Bizkit, along with Offspring and Courtney Love, also speaks out on Napster's behalf.

May 2000: In compliance with the "notice and take down" provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, Napster blocks the passwords of more than 300,000 of its users who allegedly swapped Metallica's songs. Metallica compiled the list and the band demanded that the users be removed from Napster's system because of alleged copyright infringements. Some 30,000 of the 300,000 users on Metallica's list claim they never illegally swapped Metallica's tunes.

April 2000: Metallica sues Napster for copyright infringement and racketeering. The heavy-metal band also attacks the University of Southern California, Yale University and Indiana University for refusing to censor students' Web access to Napster. Yale and Indiana University are dropped from the suit because they opt to cancel Napster's service. Two weeks after Metallica sues Napster, rapper Dr. Dre follows Metallica's lead.

March-February 2000: Napster continues to clog university networks. Some universities pull the plug on Napster.

January 2000: The onslaught of online song swapping at Napster slows many academic computer networks to a crawl, prompting some universities to ban Napster.

December 1999: The RIAA files suit on behalf of the five major US record labels, accusing Napster of violating federal and state copyright laws. The RIAA alleges that Napster is operating as a "haven" for music piracy on the Internet by making illegal copies of MP3 files freely available. RIAA seeks an injunction against the service for damages and for lost revenue from thousands of songs it said were pirated through Napster's program.

May 1999: Napster incorporates.

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