Recording Industry Sues Napster for Copyright Infringement
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)Wednesday filed suit against Napster, Inc., a company the RIAA alleged is operating
as a haven for music piracy on the Internet.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in California, charges Napster with contributory and vicarious copyright
infringement and related state laws. By its own admission, Napster is responsible for making millions
of MP3 files widely available to users around the world. As
alleged by the RIAA in its complaint, the overwhelming majority of those
recordings are pirated.
“We love the idea of using
technology to build artist communities, but that’s not what Napster is all
about. Napster is about facilitating piracy, and trying to build a business
on the backs of artists and copyright owners,” said Cary Sherman, senior
executive vice president and general counsel, RIAA.
Napster claims that it is trying to promote unknown artists, but its own Web
site advertised that, with Napster, “you can forget wading through page after
page of unknown artists” and “you’ll never come up empty handed when
searching for your favorite artist again!”
“Many companies on the Internet are promoting artists without also trading in
pirated music files,” Sherman said. “Companies like UBL, IUMA, Farm Club and
MP3.com prove that there are many creative ways to promote new artists online
without infringing on the rights of artists and copyright owners.” Pirated
copies of the recordings of every artist on the current Billboard charts can
be located and downloaded from Napster.
According to the complaint, Napster users log onto Napster servers and make their previously personal MP3
collections available for download by other Napster users who are logged on
at the same time. Napster provides its users with all the facilities and
means to engage in copyright infringment, according to the RIAA.
The RIAA is a trade association whose members create, manufacture and/or
distribute approximately 90 percent of all legitimate sound recordings produced and
sold in the United States. One of the organization’s primary missions is to
safeguard the intellectual property rights of recording artists and member
companies. It has been in legal battles before over online music, specifically with MP3.com over the legality of the MP3 format.