US government deals Napster a blow

In a friend of the court brief filed with the US Court of Appeals in California on Friday, the US Copyright Office said 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.

The brief is not binding, but appears to bolster the validity of a lower court ruling against Napster in July, in which US District Court Judge Marylin Hall Patel determined that the company's service had contributed to the widespread violation of copyrights. Napster's service allows users to freely exchange digital recordings of songs over the Internet. Patel issued a preliminary injunction requiring Napster to prevent its members from trading copyrighted material -- a requirement that Napster argued was technically unfeasible and would effectively shut the service down. Napster appealed the ruling and was granted a reprieve a few days later by the US Court of Appeals, which stayed the injunction pending the outcome of Napster's appeal.

The Copyright Office said it filed the friend of the court brief, or "amicus curiae," because it has an obligation to provide courts with "information and assistance" on issues related to copyright cases. The brief was co-submitted with the civil division of the US Department of Justice, and the US Patent and Trademark Office.

In it, the Copyright Office argued that Napster's service isn't protected by the Home Recording Act because users exchange music using personal computers and hard disks, and not using any of the devices specified in the Act. Furthermore, the Copyright Office said, by downloading music files to a personal computer, Napster's users are not creating "digital musical recordings" in the strict sense that was defined in the 1992 Act.

Two weeks ago, a coalition of IT and consumer electronics companies, including the 600-member Consumer Electronics Association, submitted a friend of the court brief of their own in which they criticised the decision against Napster.

In the brief, the groups criticised Judge Patel, arguing that she had misinterpreted and misapplied laws in the case. The brief also said her ruling infringed on the US's First Amendment right to freedom of speech and threatened future technological innovation on the Internet.

Napster's appeal is due to be heard in the first week of October before a three-judge panel in San Francisco, a spokesman for the company said today.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?