US Senate plans to call for Napster hearing

Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, said he would consult with the ranking Democrat on the committee, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, about the possibility of the committee scheduling an oversight hearing on the Napster case in the coming weeks. Such a hearing would follow the Senate Judiciary Committee's first Napster hearing in July. Possible practical problems that may arise from Monday's ruling have troubled the senator, who announced his plans to seek to hold another Napster hearing in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

"By ordering the lower court to impose a preliminary injunction before a trial on the merits ... could have the effect of shutting down Napster entirely," Hatch said, according to a transcript of the speech.

The tens of millions of music fans who use Napster represent a huge consumer demand for the kind of online music services Napster has offered and the major record labels have been unable to satisfy, the transcript said. Although record labels have been working to roll out projects, their offerings have been slow in coming, Hatch said. He also said he was aware that the record labels are willing to work on negotiating licenses with Napster and other similar services, including Gnutella and Freenet.

"It seems to me that now might be a good time to get those deals done," he said.

A date for the hearing has not yet been set, a spokeswoman for the senator said Thursday.

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Margret Johnston

PC World

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