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More on copyright, Music labels and Napster

January 31, 2002
NY Times

Labels dodge scrutiny in Napster case
John Borland, CNET News.com

A day before the major record labels asked for a one-month halt in their
lawsuit against file-swapping start-up Napster, a federal judge told them
she would turn close scrutiny on their online practices.

According to transcripts of a Jan. 16 meeting, released Wednesday, Judge
Marilyn Hall Patel was about to open a process examining whether the big
record labels had "misused" their copyrights in their dealings with online
rivals. One day later, the labels asked for a 30-day halt to the case to
pursue settlement talks more vigorously.

"I decided there are some significant issues with respect to (copyright)
misuse that (Napster) ought to be able to pursue," Patel told lawyers from
both sides, according to the transcript. "The case law is a bit murky.
But...if we can see it, maybe we'll know it."

The issue of copyright misuse--a kind of little brother to antitrust law
that could theoretically see the labels lose the right to sue people over
copyright issues--has quietly been a part of Napster's defense for more
than a year. But last October, the company brought up specifics about the
way that the labels' online joint ventures, MusicNet and Pressplay, had
acted. For the first time, Patel took serious notice of the issue.

--end of excerpt--