Napster Files Appeal Against Judge's Ruling

Among its concerns, Napster claimed that the court failed to recognize evidence that the site might actually be promoting sales for the music industry. In addition, Napster suggested that Wednesday's proceedings ran too short -- not giving the firm enough time to present all of the applicable evidence. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel denied a request for an evidentiary hearing.

At the hearing Wednesday Judge Patel determined that Napster's site posed a very real and immediate threat to the interests of the plaintiffs in the case -- the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). RIAA filed suit against Napster claiming the music sharing Web site was infringing copyrights held by the music industry.

Also listed among Napster's complaints was the charge that its users do not engage in commercial use of MP3 files and therefore do not participate in direct copyright infringement -- one of the main points of contention for Judge Patel. The last of the major objections made by Napster attorneys centered on their belief that the judge ignored a U.S. Supreme Court precedent which suggests that extensions of copyright laws to new technologies be made by U.S. Congress.

A source close to the RIAA said that the music industry body plans to make a motion against the Napster appeal in the coming days.

If Judge Patel's injunction isn't lifted, Napster will be forced to comply with her order to pull copyrighted material off its Web site by midnight Pacific time Friday. The court issued the injunction as part of the ongoing lawsuit filed against the company by the RIAA.

Following Wednesday's hearing, Napster founder Shawn Fanning and Interim Chief Executive Officer Hank Barry spoke to the public via a Webcast on Napster's site. "We will keep fighting for Napster and for your right to share music over the Internet," Fanning said.

Barry did the majority of the talking during the brief Webcast and reassured Napster users that he will do everything in his power to keep Napster up and running. "We intend to see this through in every venue, in every court," Barry said on the Webcast.

Napster expects a court ruling on its appeal within 24 hours, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

Napster's Web site has a catalog of MP3 format songs stored in the computers of thousands of users. A user looking for a particular song can search the Napster database and download the song for free from the user who has it on his or her computer.

During their Webcast, both Fanning and Barry appealed to Napster users to frequently check the company's Web site in order to find appropriate ways for the fans to help.

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Ashlee Vance

PC World
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