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THE DEATH OF COPYRIGHTJuly’s cause celebre was undoubtedly the legal battle in the US between Napster – a website that allows users to swap and download MP3 music files – and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).In late July, US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel issued a preliminary injunction that would have required Napster to close down its MP3 file download service. Two days later, on 28 July, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted a temporary reprieve and put the case on its expedited schedule.Napster had to submit a brief to the court by 18 August and the plaintiffs must submit a reply by 8 September, so the case should receive a full hearing by late September or early October and could be in the US Supreme Court by the end of the year. The Wall Street Journal said the Napster case and the related litigation is causing many content and intellectual property owners to worry if “the death of copyright is at hand”.The RIAA was originally claiming damages of $100,000 (£66,200) per infringement, with an estimated total liability of $100m (£66.2m). But it is now expected that the recording industry will seek punitive damages of $150,000 (£99,300) per “wilful infringement”.Napster also faces two suits, brought by Doctor Dre and Metallica, which are each claiming $10m (£6.2m) in damages. According to legal documents, Napster was valued at just $63m (£41.7m) in its most recent round of venture capital funding.

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