Deal reps small victory for beleaguered Netco

NEW YORK — Offering the file-sharing faithful a tidbit of good news in an otherwise grim week, Napster said Thursday that it had settled its long-running court battles with musical nemeses Metallica and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young.

Under the terms of the settlement, Napster will continue its efforts to block unauthorized access to works by the two superstar acts. In return, both Metallica and Dr. Dre agreed to provide a limited selection of their music for use on Napster’s second generation, subscription-based service, set to bow by the end of summer.

Deal reps a small victory for Napster in the most visible skirmish of its ongoing dispute with the music industry establishment. The two acts had become the public faces of the industry’s fight to shut down the Netco.

“The problem we had with Napster was that they never asked us or other artists if we wanted to participate in their business,” Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich said. “We believe that this settlement will create the kind of enhanced protection for artists that we’ve been seeking from Napster. … It’s good that they’re going legit.”

But the truce may be too little, too late for Napster, which suffered what could be a mortal blow this week in its main battle with the five major record labels.

On Wednesday, federal judge Marilyn Hall Patel said that Napster, which had shut down temporarily to upgrade its service, should remain dark indefinitely. Because it had only blocked access to 99.4% of the copyrighted files on its system, Patel argued, the company continued to violate the terms of her injunction, which demands 100% blocking.

Late Wednesday, Napster interim chief Hank Barry said the company plans to appeal the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court and will continue work on the subscription version of its service unabated.

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