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Thread: Tables turned on labels in Napster case

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2001

    Post Tables turned on labels in Napster case

    Tables turned on labels in Napster case

    A day before the major record labels asked for a one-month halt in their lawsuit against file-swapping start-up Napster, a federal judge told them she would turn close scrutiny on their online practices.
    According to transcripts of a Jan. 16 meeting, released Wednesday, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel was about to open a process examining whether the big record labels had "misused" their copyrights in their dealings with online rivals. One day later, the labels asked for a 30-day halt to the case to pursue settlement talks more vigorously.

    "I decided there are some significant issues with respect to (copyright) misuse that (Napster) ought to be able to pursue," Patel told lawyers from both sides, according to the transcript. "The case law is a bit murky. But...if we can see it, maybe we'll know it."

    The issue of copyright misuse--a kind of little brother to antitrust law that could theoretically see the labels lose the right to sue people over copyright issues--has quietly been a part of Napster's defense for more than a year. But last October, the company brought up specifics about the way that the labels' online joint ventures, MusicNet and Pressplay, had acted. For the first time, Patel took serious notice of the issue.

    MusicNet, which is jointly owned by AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann and the EMI Group, had struck a deal with Napster that barred the start-up from making a similar deal with Pressplay. That, in addition to the big labels' decision to work together in joint ventures, deserved scrutiny, Patel said.

    "I'm really confused as to why the plaintiffs came upon this way of getting together in a joint venture," Patel said in October. "Even if it passes antitrust analysis, it looks bad, sounds bad, smells bad."

    The labels are already under potentially more serious scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice, which has been conducting an antitrust inquiry into their online businesses since the middle of 2000.

    In Patel's Jan. 16 transcript, the judge also said she would open up some scrutiny as to whether labels can prove they own the songs they say Napster users have been stealing.

    The Recording Industry Association of America says its request for a temporary cessation of hostilities stemmed from more immediate concerns, however. It wants to make sure a settlement is made before Napster's wallet runs dry, the group says.

    "Our companies are not worried about these claims," RIAA general counsel Cary Sherman said in a statement. "They are worried that time is running out on Napster's ability to pay damages."

    Napster is unlikely to pay for any damages--which could climb into the hundreds of millions of dollars--out of its own thinning pockets. For the last year, most of its large expenditures of funds, including a $36 million payment to music publishers to settle another part of its ongoing lawsuit, have come from German giant Bertelsmann.

    In an interview late last year, Napster CEO Konrad Hilbers said Bertelsmann Chief Executive Thomas Middelhoff was willing to support the start-up through settlement with the major music labels, although there would be a limit to the money.

    "There is an end to (Bertelsmann's) money," Hilbers said. "It's not like they're going to spend billions."

    In return for its loans, which total well over $100 million, Bertelsmann has obtained warrants to acquire a majority equity interest in Napster once it launches a legal music subscription service.

    The temporary stay in the labels' suit will expire in mid-February. Hilbers has said he expects to have a final settlement before the end of the first quarter.
    An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure...

  2. #2
    The Lizard King SarinMage's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    New York
    die record company scum

  3. #3
    heh your def keeping us up to date with recent news today jared_c

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Yea, everyday when I get to work I take a few minutes and browse some news sites. I figure since I'm already checking them out I might as well grab a few articles and post them here. Most people seem to enjoy it, some people get pissed. I did a poll yesterday and almost everyone voted that I keep posting news. It only takes a few mins, and if no one likes the article it just drops to the bottom within an hour. Seems to feul some good discussions though.

    As for Napster's case, I think it is clear that the record companies are all working together and creating a kind of monopoly so they can control online music. They'll be coming out with there own pay for service file sharing programs soon, and anyone else that trys to create one they will sue to put out of business. Similar to what the MPAA is doing, destroying anyone that might take pennies from their pockets.
    An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure...

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