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German media giant Bertelsmann said Friday it has asked a federal court in New York to dismiss three lawsuits that allege its investment in the now-defunct Napster song-swapping service led to copyright infringement. Bertelsmann and its U.S. units, Bertelsmann Inc. and BeMusic Inc., filed a motion Thursday against claims by EMI Group PLC and Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music Group that they were “vicarious” and “contributory” copyright infringers. Bertlesmann argued that U.S. copyright law doesn’t make it liable just because it loaned money to Napster. The music publishers filed their lawsuits earlier this year over Bertelsmann’s funding of the file-swapping service in 2000 and 2001. Napster filed for bankruptcy and shuttered operations after a court ruled it violated copyright laws. They complain that Bertelsmann tried to take control of Napster by sinking $85 million into it even after Bertelsmann’s BMG recording unit had joined a music-industry lawsuit to stop the service. Napster was the dorm-room brainchild of college student Shawn Fanning, who started it as a system for computer users to share music. It became wildly popular in 2000 but was attacked by the music industry as theft. Bertelsmann said that Napster’s legal status was still in question when it provided funding, and it never profited from any of Napster’s copyright infringement. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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