Napster claims labels trying to "relitigate"

InfoWorld |  Business

Leading up to its first court appearance in over a month, Napster released its third brief on Thursday, detailing its compliance with a U.S. District Court order that it block copyrighted material from its service.

With a hearing scheduled for April 10 in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, who handed the order down, Napster and its foe, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), have traded increasingly hostile legal filings for the past month.

In Napster's latest brief, which details its efforts between March 16 and March 30, the company argued that not only has it effectively filtered copyrighted material from its service but that the record companies suing it are attempting to "relitigate" the case and its ruling in their filings.

The RIAA's last filing charged that Napster was failing to abide by the court's order and was not taking adequate steps to block infringing material. Napster responded by saying that the RIAA is "seeking to relitigate issues already decided" by the court. The issue of contention is deciding who is responsible for providing Napster with the information necessary to block the proper files.

In a previous brief, Napster had said that the RIAA was failing to provide the artist/song-title pairs, filenames, and proof of ownership the judge's order required. The RIAA countered that it was abiding by the court's order and that Napster had brought any problems it had on itself by creating its service in the first place.

Napster charged in Thursday's brief that the RIAA's position is "unfair in light of the extent of the good faith efforts that Napster has already expended" and "make no sense because they are based on an attempt to circumvent the requirements" set out by the court in its ruling. Not only that, but Napster also said that the RIAA is attempting to return to the court's original ruling, which was overturned on appeal for being too broad.

In asking the court to place more of the burden on Napster for determining which files should be blocked, the RIAA is violating the court's order, Napster said.

This action has even more far-reaching implications, Napster said. "As a practical matter, Plaintiffs' position cannot (italics theirs) be correct. If an Internet Service Provider, such as Napster, can be 'put on notice' -- and required to block and patrol its system -- simply by being provided with catalogues of millions of artists and titles absent any (italics theirs) proof of availability of copyrighted works on the ISP's system, the operation of Internet technologies would be seriously compromised."

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