Report: Net file-swapping goes on

Morpheus, Kazaa, Aimster pick up Napster slack

Napster may be under the thumb of the California District Court, but that doesn’t appear to have dampened Netizens’ appetites for swapping music and other media files, according to new data released by research firm Jupiter Media Metrix.

The number of unique users for the newest peer-to-peer services, which have exploded in popularity since Napster’s file library was gutted by a court injunction, grew nearly five-fold to 6.9 million in August, from just 1.2 million in March, Jupiter said.

Usual suspects

At the top of the list were a set of increasingly familiar names, including Music City’s Morpheus, with 2.3 million users; Consumer Empowerment’s Kazaa Media Desktop, 1.3 million; and Aimster.com, 927,000. All let users trade text, pictures and video clips in addition to music.

The Recording Industry Assn. of America has slapped the companies with copyright infringement lawsuits not unlike the one that’s bringing Napster to its knees. Because their technology is more decentralized than Napster’s, however, many of the new services will be harder to shut down.

Judgment requested

Meanwhile, the RIAA’s legal team marched into the California district courtroom of Judge Marilyn Hall Patel on Wednesday to argue for a summary judgment against Napster that would move the case directly into damages phase without further debate of the facts.

Under copyright law, the beleaguered Netco could be liable for up to $150,000 per work infringed, which adds up to billions in damages. Napster has already paid out a $26 million settlement fee to the National Music Publishers Assn. as part of a licensing pact for its new subscription-based service, due out by the end of the year.

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