July 27 -- Napster has hit a sour note in court.
A federal judge in San Francisco shut down the popular music swapping Web site — saying the online company encourages “wholesale infringement” against music industry copyrights. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel noted that 70 millionpeople are expected to be using Napster by year’s end unless theservice is halted.
“It is pretty much acknowledged by Napster that this isinfringement,” Patel said.
Injunction Starts Friday
The injunction will go into effect at midnight Friday, after thenation’s largest record producers post a $5 million bond againstany financial losses Napster suffers from being shut down pendingtrial.
Napster’s attorney, David Boies, said the San Mateo,Calif.-based company will appeal.
“I think that a settlement, frankly, is unlikely,” Boies said. The Recording Industry Association of America sued Napster inDecember, accusing it of encouraging an unrestrained, illegal,online bazaar. Napster argued that personal copying of music is protected byfederal law. The ruling also is a victory for the heavy metal band Metallica. The group sued the company, claiming more than more than 300,000 Napster users had traded its songs online. Napster responded by blocking access for more than 30,000 people,but new users continued trading the band’s music.
‘This Is Not Sharing’
“We’re elated,” Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich said. “Sharing is such a warm, cuddly, friendly word... this is not sharing, it’s duplicating.” Some Metallica fans are furious at their once-beloved band, and a strong backlash looms. “I can imagine there being boycotts,” said Jonah Meadows, a Napster user. “A lot of people are outraged atMetallica for being so petty about this. So I imagine that could happen.” Elisabeth Prot, a sales executive from San Francisco who usesNapster, said she would look for alternative programs to trademusic online and add to her collection of more than 120 downloadedmusic files.