Date: 3rd October 2000

Napster Case May Not Be Cut And Dried

Although a federal appeals court was widely expected to put Napster, the Internet site that enables users to swap music online, out of business, two of the judges on the panel on Friday put pointed questions to lawyers for the recording industry that suggested that the ruling may not go as anticipated.

As reported by today's (Tuesday) New York Times, at one point Judge Robert Beezer asked a lawyer for the recording industry whether Napster had the responsibility for policing the actions of its users. "How is Napster expected to have knowledge of what's going on in someone's computer in Hackensack, NJ?" he asked.

The lawyer replied that Napster's entire purpose was to "create, implement and supervise" a system aimed at copyright infringement. Another judge, Mary Schroeder, who had written an opinion holding that operators of a swap meet could be held liable if individual vendors sell copyrighted material, said that Napster could not be compared with the swap meet, because a swap-meet operator could "control what was going on on the premises." The movie industry, which is concerned about video versions of Napster, is keeping a particularly close watch on the case.

Source: Studio Briefing