Metallica sues Napster for copyright violation

Band is first group of artists to file

Hard rockers Metallica have become the first recording artists to file a copyright infringement suit against the popular Internet file-sharing program Napster. Three major universities were named in the suit as well.

In their suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles yesterday, Metallica, Creeping Death Music (their music publishing company) and E/M Ventures (their joint venture with Elektra Records, for whom they record) charge Napster, USC, Yale and Indiana U. with copyright infringement, unlawful use of a digital audio interface device — and violations of the Racketeering Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

One reason Metallica is the first recording act to file suit against Napster is that the group is one of relatively few that owns its own master tapes as well as its own music publishing.

Metallica’s attorney, Howard King, told Daily Variety that the RICO act was invoked because Napster’s file-sharing program involves ongoing multiple violations with multiple conspirators.

King added that the three universities cited in the suit were those that — unlike nearly 200 other schools — had not banned use of the Napster software. (Indiana previously banned Napster’s use because it was taking up so much of the campus computer network’s bandwidth, but once that problem was resolved, reinstated access to the program.)

“It takes more than Napster,” said King. “How these universities allow their bandwidth to be used is firmly within their control.”

When contacted by Daily Variety, Napster’s attorneys said they hadn’t seen a copy of the suit and therefore could not comment.

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