Napster to play big Boies

David Boies, lead attorney in the US Department of Justice challenge of Microsoft, has been hired by Napster to help the company fend off copyright violation charges filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the heavy-metal band Metallica and rapper Dr Dre.

In a statement issued Friday by Napster, Boies is quoted as saying the case raises important questions about how copyright laws are to be applied to the internet and the extent to which internet directories will remain free for communicating and sharing files without monitoring or regulation.

The copyright infringement claims arise from the way Napster's software allows users of MP3 technology, an encoding format for music, to locate MP3 files on the Web and trade them across the network. Napster says its software acts only as a conduit for information. The company also says it respects copyrights and is committed to protecting the interests of musicians.

Napster stands charged in US District Court in the Central District of California of committing continuing copyright infringements, unlawful use of digital audio interface device and violations of the Racketeering Influenced & Corrupt Organisations Act (RICO).

Boies will be entering the fray following a minor victory for the RIAA in court last month. The company's attempt to have the case dismissed on summary judgment failed.

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