Three days after promising in a District Court hearing in San Francisco to implement a file-screening system over the weekend, online file sharing company Napster has yet to begin blocking copyrighted
Three days after promising in a District Court hearing in San Francisco to implement a file-screening system over the weekend, online file sharing company Napster has yet to begin blocking copyrighted music files from its service's search engines.
The company's lead attorney, David Boies, told U.S. District Court judge Marilyn Hall Patel on Friday that Napster had file-screening technology in place and would begin "blocking millions" of music files over the weekend. The files to be screened out are based on a list of nearly 6,000 artists provided to Napster by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) following the Feb. 12 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that Napster must remove copyrighted material.
But as late as this afternoon (March 5), MP3 files containing music by artists on this list -- including Metallica and Dr. Dre, each of whom filed separate copyright infringement lawsuits against the company last year -- were still available for search and download using the Napster service. Calls to Napster seeking comment went unreturned at deadline.
RIAA attorneys suggested at Friday's hearing that Napster should start by blocking songs that appear on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and the Billboard 200 albums chart. Songs in the top-5 of both tallys, including the current No. 1 single, Joe's "Stutter," were still available today.
Napster's home page provided seemingly conflicting statements about the company's plans to block the files. A statement posted Friday by CEO Hank Barry claimed "while we continue to pursue our legal case, we will begin later this weekend to block the transfer of file names we have previously received from copyright holders."
However, a "Media Q&A" posted elsewhere on the site is vague about Napster's commitment to prevent access to copyrighted files. The statement reads, "Napster is ready to implement this proposal within three business days of this order," ostensibly referring to the injunction yet to be revised and issued by Patel.
Last Friday, Patel did not indicate when she would issue the revised preliminary injunction. Napster and the RIAA are scheduled to further discuss terms with a court-assigned mediator on Friday (March 9).
The discussion boards on Napster's site were aflutter with activity over the weekend, with user sentiment varying wildly. Some posts explained how users can continue online file sharing through alternative services such as Gnutella if Napster were to be shut down. Others urged Napster users to boycott the entertainment industry. Some provided ways around the blocking of copyrighted files, such as using codes to identify song and artist titles.
Still others suggested Napster simply move its company outside U.S. borders. Matt Goyer, founder of Fairtunes.com, has taken this concept one step further with his plans to launch a Napster clone in an offshore location. According to the Canadian newspaper Globe And Mail, Goyer is looking into purchasing space on Sealand, a sovereign ocean platform off the coast of Britain housing Internet companies that wish to avoid government laws.
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