Other new suits expected to follow

Napster just can’t seem to make its legal troubles go away: Online music company EMusic.com on Wednesday joined the laundry list of companies suing the song-swapping company for unfair competition as part of a copyright infringement lawsuit.

The suit from EMusic, which pays license fees to artists to sell their music on the Internet, was filed in the same U.S. District Court in San Francisco that issued a landmark injunction against Napster on Monday, requiring it to remove songs from its service within three days of receiving notice from copyright holders. Napster has 60 million users who trade songs for free.

As well as requesting damages against Napster for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement, EMusic requests that Napster reinstate any users who had their accounts terminated for trading EMusic songs.

Software stopper

EMusic in November unveiled software that hampered song trading over Napster by scanning files. If the software found an EMusic file, it sent a message to the user, asking them to withdraw the song within 24 hours.

If the user failed to comply, EMusic asked Napster to block that person from using the online music service.

EMusic said that Napster would rather shut down user accounts than deal with the problem of illegal trading.

Napster has begun to block users from hundreds of copyrighted songs, filtering out tracks rather than users.

Lawyers expect EMusic’s lawsuit to be one of many to come, since the injunction against Napster. “We welcome the injunction that the court has issued against Napster,” EMusic CEO Gene Hoffman said. “It is a major step toward leveling the playing field for legitimate downloadable music companies.”

The world’s biggest record labels first sued Napster in late 1999, claiming it was a haven for copyright piracy that would cost them billions of dollars in lost music sales.

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