Napster CEO Hank Barry, responding to a request from the Recording Industry Assn. of America for a preliminary injunction, has offered a bit of an olive branch, saying, “We are all trying to find ways to work with all of the constituencies that are part of the Napster community, including the major record companies.”
The RIAA this week asked federal judge Marilyn Patel in San Francisco for a preliminary injunction blocking all major-label content from being traded on Napster until a copyright infringement lawsuit comes to trial.
Barry said in a statement, “This case is about whether it is legal to share MP3 versions of sound recordings over the Internet. We say yes — the major labels say no. The industry is seeking nothing less than to eliminate file-sharing as a technology. Napster is confident that the courts will see past these efforts.”
Napster works like a cooperative in which users sign on and trade libraries of computer files using the MP3 format, which compresses songs into small packets of data.
Barry said Napster is helping record companies, not taking away sales from the record industry.
“Napster is doing no harm to the record industry,” Barry said. “By their own numbers, record sales are up and file sharing has proven to be a great promotional tool.”
The RIAA, which hired the California-based Field Institute polling firm to question students about Napster, said the study found that “essentially every single Napster user sampled was engaged in some copyright infringement.” The survey also alleged that 87% or more of the songs actually copied and downloaded using the Napster software were copyrighted.
The request from RIAA and the National Music Publishers Assn. for the preliminary injunction was bolstered by declarations from MPAA prexy Jack Valenti, music e-tailer Emusic.com chairman Robert Kohn, and — following last week’s settlement — MP3.com CEO Michael Robertson.
Several indie labels as well as recording artists Metallica and Dr. Dre also have filed copyright infringement suits against Napster that are unrelated to the RIAA-led suit.
“If Napster can encourage and facilitate the distribution of pirated sound recordings, then what’s to stop it from doing the same to movies, software, books, magazines, newspapers, television, photographs or video games,” Valenti said in his declaration.
While the court could order Napster’s central servers to be taken off-line, the user-to-user nature of the file-sharing system would require hundreds of thousand of injunctions to stop the widespread trade of content online.