Judge puts clamp on Napster's return

A San Francisco judge ruled Wednesday that Napster Inc. cannot resume its music file trading service until the company shows that it can fully comply with court orders governing Napster's use of certain copyright songs, according to a statement issued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Napster temporarily suspended its music service last week while the company updated its databases to support a new tune monitoring technology designed to bring it into compliance with restrictions set by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Patel has now apparently ruled during a "closed doors session" with representatives from both Napster and the RIAA that the company may not restart its service until it shows that the software modifications will allow it to meet fully the court's restrictions. The Court could not immediately be reached for comment.

"Judge Patel's decision today that Napster should not resume operations until it can show that it can comply with the court's modified preliminary injunction was inevitable given its failure to comply with the court's order for so long," Hilary Rosen, president and chief executive officer of the RIAA, said in a statement.

The RIAA had argued that file filtering techniques employed by Napster in the past failed to remove all songs covered by copyrights owned by the RIAA's members. Napster installed its new software in an effort to block protected songs more effectively.

"While we appreciate that Napster is attempting to migrate to a legitimate business model, its inability to prevent copyright infringement from occurring on its system has only hampered the development of the marketplace in which it now hopes to compete," Rosen said in the statement.

Napster representatives declined to comment on Patel's latest ruling Wednesday evening, saying they had not had enough time to study it.

Napster, in Redwood City, California, can be reached at +1-650-373-3800 or http://www.napster.com/. The RIAA, in Washington, D.C., can be reached at +1-202-775-0101 or http://www.riaa.com/.

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