The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and music publishers, in an effort to avoid a protracted legal trial, have asked a federal judge to rule that Napster is liable for willfully viola

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and music publishers, in an effort to avoid a protracted legal trial, have asked a federal judge to rule that Napster is liable for willfully violating music copyrights, Billboard Bulletin reports.

The motion for summary judgment, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, asks that Judge Marilyn Hall Patel find that the file-sharing service engaged in contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 1.

"Napster knowingly and willfully set out to build a business based on copyright infringement on an unprecedented scale," says RIAA senior VP for business and legal affairs Matt Oppenheim. An RIAA spokesperson says this marks the first time the trade group has formally sought a ruling following its request for a preliminary injunction against Napster, filed Dec. 6, 1999.

Napster officials would not comment. However, the service yesterday (Aug. 8) filed a formal motion requesting, among other things, that its "emergency stay" of operations, granted July 18, be made permanent.

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