In a surprise move, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco yesterday (July 18) granted Napster's "emergency motion for a stay," putting on hold Judge Marilyn Hall Patel's order to ke

In a surprise move, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco yesterday (July 18) granted Napster's "emergency motion for a stay," putting on hold Judge Marilyn Hall Patel's order to keep the file-swapping service shuttered, Billboard Bulletin reports. Although the move effectively allows Napster to resume operations, it remains uncertain whether the company will do so.

Napster officials -- although pleased with the ruling -- say they are studying its implications. "We continue to push ahead with the launch of our new membership service later this month," says Napster general counsel Jonathan Schwartz.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which failed to quash Napster's request for a stay, believes yesterday's decision is a temporary setback. The ruling, says RIAA senior executive VP/general counsel Cary Sherman, "does not change in any way the fact that Napster must prevent copyrighted works from appearing on its system, as previously ordered by the court."

It's not the first time the appeals panel reversed Patel in this case. In February, the court modified Patel's order demanding Napster to remove all protected works from its site. The panel said Napster must remove the works, but only after the RIAA notifies the company which Napster files constitute copyright songs.

Napster reminded the appeals court of that earlier ruling when it asked the appeals court to lift Patel's most recent order.


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