Napster takes on general counsel

Former Justice Dept. attorney Schwartz to o'see legal issues

Napster has tapped former top Justice Dept. attorney Jonathan Schwartz general counsel, reporting to interim chief exec Hank Barry.

In the newly created position, Schwartz will oversee the Netco’s formidable docket of legal issues, including defense of the company in an ongoing legal tussle with the recording industry over copyright issues. He also will be point man for legal concerns surrounding the rollout of its second-generation secure digital music service, set to bow this summer.

Earlier this week, Napster announced that its new service would become a licensee of MusicNet, a digital music distribution company set up by Warner Music, EMI, BMG and media software company RealNetworks.

But two of the labels in the consortium — Warner and EMI — issued separate statements maintaining that they would not release their content for use on Napster until the Netco proves it can guard against copyright violations.

Outside influence

Napster reps said David Boies, another former Justice Dept. lawyer who has been representing the company against the major labels, will continue in his position as an outside counsel.

Before logging on with Napster, Schwartz was principal associate deputy attorney general, acting as a senior legal and policy adviser to the attorney general. Prior to that, he was a federal prosecutor in the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the southern district of New York.

In other Napster news, the company tapped digital security firm Loudeye Technologies to supply “fingerprinting” technology to the file-swapper’s second-generation network. The technology will help Napster identify songs being traded on the network, enabling it to accurately compensate rights holders, the company said.

Loudeye’s fingerprinting also will help Napster filter copyrighted material out of its existing service to comply with an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court in San Francisco in February.