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Napster cuts 16 jobs, sets for relaunch

Cuts came mainly in customer service, business development and administration

NEW YORK — Troubled file-swapping pioneer Napster has laid off 16 of its 104 staffers as part of what chief exec Konrad Hilbers characterized as a preparatory measure ahead of the company’s forthcoming relaunch.

The cuts came mainly in customer service, business development and administration — jobs a source close to the situation described as “not really crucial positions.”

In a statement, Hilbers said the company doesn’t anticipate further reductions.

“Napster took the step of streamlining staff in selected areas in order to strengthen resources in other areas crucial to preparing for the launch of our new membership-based service,” he said.

Napster is planning to launch the overhauled offering by year’s end as a law-abiding alternative to the company’s wildly popular free service, which was shut down this summer as the company tried to comply with a court injunction against trading copyrighted music files.

Napster is fighting a motion for summary judgment filed by the Recording Industry Assn. of America that could leave the Netco exposed to hundreds of millions in statutory damages for copyright infringement.

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