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The U.S. recording industry has dropped efforts to compel four Internet service providers to block a Chinese Web site accused of distributing pirated music. Thirteen record companies had filed suit last Friday after failing to persuade the site, Listen4ever.com, to shut down on its own. But in a surprise move, the companies dropped the lawsuit Wednesday, saying the site is now offline. The Recording Industry Association of America said it may revive the suit if the site reappears with a new name or location. Critics had complained that the RIAA was setting a potentially dangerous precedent by trying to force the Internet carriers to function as copyright police. It’s unclear what happened to the Listen4ever site, which has been inaccessible since at least Monday. An e-mail from a representative for the site, identified as Mike Smith, said only, “For some reason, the site is closed and will never come back.” The e-mail, sent using a Yahoo account in response to a reporter’s inquiry, did not elaborate. The federal suit was filed by Arista Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Virgin Records America, Warner Bros. Records and nine other labels. They said Listen4ever.com offered for illegal download thousands of copyrighted songs from Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera and other popular artists. The suit said some of the recordings had not yet been commercially released. Defendants in the suit were AT&T Broadband, Cable and Wireless, Sprint Corp. and WorldCom Inc.’s UUNet. Their representatives had no comment on the dismissal. The companies carry much of the Internet’s long-haul traffic. Meanwhile, the RIAA is suing Verizon Communications’ Internet unit seeking to identify a customer who is allegedly running a computer “that is a hub for significant music piracy.” Tuesday’s lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeks enforcement of a July 24 subpoena to Verizon. Verizon spokesman Eric Rabe questions the subpoena’s validity because the files in question are not on the company’s network, even if the customer’s computer connects to it. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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