Bertelsmann backs its Napster relaunch plan

Lack of content keeps service offline until next year

BERLIN — German media giant Bertelsmann has reiterated its support for Napster despite postponing the online relaunch of the music file swapping service until next year.

News follows reports Monday that Bertelsmann injected $26 million into the Internet service.

Bertelsmann’s Internet division BeCG said Tuesday that although its new Internet high-security software is ready to go, lack of content is keeping Napster offline. Company has had difficulty obtaining licenses from major recording labels.

Napster had planned its restart by year’s end, but will relaunch its legal consumer service in the first quarter of next year.

“The loans and the technology agreements show that we not only have faith in Napster as a product, but also in the technology behind it,” BeCG said.

BeCG earlier this month inked a licensing and distribution deal with Napster, tightening its bonds. Pact allows BeCG to use the newly developed security software for its online distribution of music.

Bertelsmann forged an alliance with Napster last year, providing it with a credit line of $60 million and technological backing with the condition it go legit by becoming a paid subscription service. Bertelsmann holds the option to buy into Napster, which faced a barrage of lawsuits from the recording industry in 1999 and is still battling the Recording Industry Assn. of America in U.S. courts.

The service shuttered in July after a court order prohibiting it from trading copyrighted content.

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