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A federal judge in San Francisco told the music industry to catalog the copyrighted songs it wants removed from Napster Inc. and said the highly popular file-swapping service then has 72 hours to block free sharing of that music. The order, dated Monday and posted on a Web site today, effectively gave the recording industry control over the immediate fate of the Internet-based clearinghouse that has turned music distribution on its head and cultivated a following of millions. Napster is fighting to stay online and retain its popularity while promising to shift over to a subscription-based service. For that, it depends on the cooperation of the very music labels that sued the company to stop song swapping. The order by U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel did not specify what would happen if Napster was unable to comply, except to say another hearing could be held. Napster officials had no immediate comment. Patel, in issuing an injunction she reworked on the order of an appeals court, said the record labels must notify Napster of the title of the song, the name of the artist and the name of the Napster file containing the infringing material. She said all parties should take “reasonable measures” to identify the copyright-infringing music. Napster, which began a screening system this weekend in an effort to weed out such copyrighted music, then would have three business days to implement a system of blocking access to that file. Patel acknowledged that it might be difficult to identify all variations of a copyrighted song, given that Napster users could use code words or shorthand to identify different pieces of music. “This difficulty, however, does not relieve Napster of its duty,” she wrote. Patel’s ruling does not mean Redwood City, Calif.-based Napster has to shut down or turn itself off, stressed Eric Sheirer, an analyst with Forrester Research. “What it does is give the record labels a great deal of power over exactly what songs are going to show up on Napster, how long they’re going to be there, and how usable Napster will be for the vast number of consumers that are on there now,” Sheirer said. “The record industry has the advantage now of being able to get these songs off Napster any time they choose,” Sheirer added. “But if they do it now, consumers will flee to all these other alternative services where they won’t be able to control them.” All parties are due to meet with a mediator Friday. Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said the labels would comply fully with the court’s order. “We intend to provide the notifications prescribed by the court expeditiously, and look forward to the end of Napster’s infringing activity,” Rosen said. A lawyer representing heavy metal band Metallica and rapper/producer Dr. Dre in their $10 million suits against Napster praised the ruling and said his clients have been eager to get their songs off Napster for a long time. “If Napster complies with what this injunction says, it will be to our satisfaction,” said attorney Howard King. “It’s technologically doable. The question is, is Napster going to go to the necessary steps to do it?” The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that an original injunction against Napster issued by Patel was overly broad because it placed the entire burden on Napster of ensuring that no “copying, downloading, uploading, transmitting or distributing” of works occur. At a hearing last Friday, attorneys for Napster and the music industry argued before Patel about their concerns on sharing the burden of detecting the infringing files and adapting the service to weed them out. Music industry attorney Russell Frackman told Patel that Napster should start blocking access to songs listed on Billboard’s Top 100 singles and Top 200 albums charts, and by policing its system to keep those lists current. Napster attorney David Boies said the burden should be on the record labels to find infringing MP3 files on Napster and then make notice of those files to the company. Napster, which claims it has 50 million users, tried to deploy a system over the weekend to screen its system for 1 million song filenames that include various permutations and spelling of titles from Metallica and Dr. Dre. Meanwhile, Napster’s attempted crackdown prompted fresh frenzies of free-music downloads at clone Web sites that use Napster software but are beyond the easy reach of recording industry lawsuits. For example, the Napigator program Monday showed more than 96 million music files being traded by almost half a million people through computer servers located as far away as Italy, New Zealand and Russia — numbers that rivaled Napster itself even as downloads peaked this weekend. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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