Bertelsmann, Napster Form Alliance

ByABC News
October 31, 2000, 3:00 PM

Oct. 31 -- Bertelsmann AG, one of the five major music companies suing Napster, announced today that it is forming an alliance with the controversial file-sharing service.

Via its newly formed e-commerce group BeCG, Bertelsmann parent company of BMG Entertainment aims to develop Napster into a secure membership-based service that will pay royalties.

BMG Considers Dropping LawsuitOnce the new model is in place, BMG will drop its copyright infringement suit against Napster. BeCG will provide Napster with a loan to cover costs of developing the revamped service and will hold a warranty to acquire a percentage of Napsters equity.

Person-to-person file sharing has captured the imagination of millions of people worldwide with its ease of use, global selection of content, and community features, said Bertelsmann chairman and chief executive officer Thomas Middelhoff in a statement.

Napster has pointed the way for a new direction for music distribution, and we believe it will form the basis of important and exciting new business models for the future of the music industry. We invite other record and publishing companies, artists and other industry members to participate in the development of a secure and membership-based service.

I am excited that Bertelsmann appreciates and values the uniqueness of the community Napster users have built, added Napster founder Shawn Fanning. I look forward to Napster becoming a part of even more peoples lives, helping the way people discover and explore music.

Final Verdict AwaitedThe announcement of the strategic alliance comes as Napster awaits an appeals court decision as to whether or not it will be allowed to continue operating pending a final verdict in the landmark copyright lawsuit brought against it by the five major record companies. In addition to BMG, Sony Music, Universal Music, Warner Music Group, and EMI all represented by the Recording Industry Association of America are involved in the suit.