Napster’s efforts at blocking songs called ‘disgraceful’ by judge
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Calling Napster Inc.’s efforts to block copyright works from its online music-swapping service ”disgraceful,” a federal judge said Tuesday she may consider pulling the Internet service’s plug.
”Maybe the system needs to be shut down,” U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel said in a heated courtroom moment.
Patel, who is hearing the copyright infringement case against Napster by the recording industry, stopped short of putting her thoughts into action, however. She said a court-appointed expert will review claims by the industry that Napster is failing to remove copyright material from its service used by some 70 million people.
The courtroom drama illustrated just how difficult it is to remove copyright works from the Internet site while allowing non-copyright materials to remain.
”You created this monster, you fix it,” Patel said in a terse tone.
Napster attorney Robert Silver said ”all you need is one file to get through” the song-swapping system’s filters, which are designed to remove copyright material, and the protected songs will reappear on the site’s search index.
Recording Industry Association of America lawyer Carey Ramos said that of 5,000 songs the record labels asked to be removed last month, 84 percent of them are still being downloaded free of charge via Napster.
”Whatever they’re doing, it ain’t working,” he said.
Patel did not set a new hearing date, but ordered technology expert A.J. Nichols to study the issue and see if there is any existing technology available to help Napster abide by the court order to remove the songs.
In February, a federal appeals court in San Francisco said the judge’s order for Napster to remove copyright works shifted too much of a burden on the Internet site. The appeals panel said the recording industry must first notify Napster of which works should be removed.
For nearly 30 minutes, the attorneys for both sides and Patel haggled over what type of notice the industry should provide.
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