EMusic IDs Napster tune file violations

Barry will make his case to lawmakers April 3

NEW YORK — Inspired by Napster’s recent revelation that it can, after all, identify and block individual files on its service that violate copyrights, music download site EMusic.com has developed software to identify files it claims rights to that appear on Napster.

The technology, which pinpoints files using a unique numeric identifier called an MD5 sum, is similar to an initiative EMusic.com launched last November to identify specific Napster users who trafficked in EMusic-copyrighted files.

In the earlier system, EMusic rooted out Napster users trading EMusic files, sent them a warning letter, then submitted their names to Napster to have their accounts blocked — the only redress of which Napster claimed it was capable.

The difference this time around is that the new technology can pinpoint tracks, rather than persecuting users. “Napster has finally come around to admitting it can block files at the song level,” EMusic topper Gene Hoffman told Daily Variety. “That’s made things a lot easier on us.”

Under the new system, EMusic claimed it has provided Napster with 75,000 different filenames, repping roughly 35,000 individual songs from the EMusic roster, which includes such artists as Elvis Costello, B.B. King and Sasha & John Digweed.

Company hadn’t yet received any response from the embattled file-sharer, but a source close to the situation said Napster had in fact begun blocking the EMusic files. Napster officials declined comment.

EMusic’s efforts follow a U.S. District Court injunction mandating that Napster block copyrighted files submitted by verifiable rights holders.

The company has begun blocking songs from a list of 135,000 tracks provided by the Recording Industry Assn. of America, but in a compliance report to the court, Napster has asserted that the music industry’s submissions were incomplete and as a result it couldn’t block all the files in the request.

The RIAA is expected to file a response to Napster’s claims by March 27, at which point Napster has until April 3 to rebut.

Senate hearing

Meanwhile, Napster chief Hank Barry will make his case to lawmakers at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, “Online Entertainment and Copyright Law: Coming Soon to a Digital Device Near You,” also scheduled for April 3. Napster founder Shawn Fanning is also expected to attend.

And as the legal battle drags on, the RIAA will file a response April 3 to Napster’s request for a hearing before the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the injunction. A three-judge panel from the court in February effectively affirmed the District Court’s injunction.

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