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NAPSTER NOBBLED; Free music site loses court fight.

Byline: ANDY LINES, US Editor

THE record industry was celebrating last night after internet service Napster was ordered to stop allowing fans to download music for free.

A US court told the firm that it could no longer let copyrighted music be traded without charge on the web.

Record industry lawyer Chuck Cooper said: "This decision pretty much writes Napster's epitaph.

"Its days as an instrument of electronic shoplifting are over.''

In May 1999 Napster founder Shawn Fanning, above, released software that made it easy for computer users to find and trade songs they had stored as MP3 files. More than 250 million songs were downloaded using Napster last weekend alone and the record industry estimates that the trade is costing it billions of pounds.

But three appeal judges in San Francisco yesterday upheld an injunction against the site.

They warned Napster it could be held liable for "vicarious copyright infringement". Napster was sued by record giants Sony, Warner, BMG, EMI and Universal for loss of profits.

BMG, has now struck a deal with Napster promising cash backing if it switches to a subscription-based service which pays royalties.

Last night Napster vowed to fight on. It said: "Napster is not shut down, but under this decision it could be. We will pursue every avenue to keep it operating."

Copyright specialist Robert Schwartz said: "The ruling is monumental. It not only says that Napster is going to be relegated to the dustbin, but it's a shot across the bows against other sites that hope to profit without acquiring the rights to the content they use.''
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 13, 2001
Words:264
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