Napster Slapped With New Lawsuit By EMusic

Controversial music file-swapping service Napster has been hit with yet another lawsuit, this one by music download retailer Emusic, Billboard Bulletin reports. Filed last week in U.S. District Court

Controversial music file-swapping service Napster has been hit with yet another lawsuit, this one by music download retailer Emusic, Billboard Bulletin reports. Filed last week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the suit comes on the heels of a separate suit filed by NARAS, the Recording Academy over live performances from the Feb. 21 broadcast of the 43rd annual Grammy Awards.

Like the Recording Academy, EMusic claims that Napster is guilty of copyright infringement for having songs controlled by the company on its service. EMusic also alleges unfair competition, since it charges 99 cents per download and Napster's service is free.

The action stems from a move Emusic made in November, identifying tracks on Napster that it claimed violated its licensing agreements with labels. EMusic estimates that one-third to one-half of its 140,000 licensed songs -- from indie labels and artists such as Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and They Might Be Giants -- are available for free on Napster.

EMusic seeks statutory damages of $150,000 per copyright infringed, and an injunction to remove the songs in question. "EMusic has notified Napster on numerous occasions that substantial numbers of sound recordings owned by or under exclusive license to EMusic are being traded throughout the Napster system without authorization," the suit says.

EMusic president/CEO Gene Hoffman says of filing the suit, "We didn't rule this out back in November, and frankly, they've been real jerks." He adds, "Trusting a liar is difficult."

Hoffman says that even if EMusic wins the case, it's not likely to see any cash. "Since Napster doesn't have any money, there's not a dime to be had," he says. Napster executives would not comment on the suit.