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Time Running Out For Napster

July 28, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ It’s a jam session like no other for Kireau Kendrick and millions of other online music fans.

``I kind of canceled all my appointments until midnight Friday and I’m going to try and download all the music I can between now and then,″ said Kendrick, who runs a cafe with computers for rent by the hour in San Mateo, Calif.

The scramble is because a federal court order will effectively shut down Napster Inc., one of the Internet’s most popular song-sharing services, on Friday night.

A judge hearing a lawsuit filed by the recording industry granted the injunction Wednesday, saying Napster was infringing on copyrights. The order applies only to copyrighted music, but Napster said it would be virtually impossible to single out those songs among the thousands on its clearinghouse site.

Napster’s lawyers have asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the order, arguing that the decision would bring down the company and force it to lay off its 40 employees within days.

``This would essentially destroy Napster as a business, and deprive the more than 20 million Napster users of their service,″ Napster said.

The motion also said Chief U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel erred by attempting to ``adapt existing copyright provisions to the new realities of Internet technology.″

Fans didn’t wait for the appeal: Web sites providing information on alternative song-swapping software were swamped on Thursday.

Unlike Napster’s clearinghouse model, the alternatives enable decentralized file-sharing _ a technology no court or law enforcement agency can stop.

More than 31,000 people had used a lesser-known Internet service called Scour Exchange to share more than 2 million songs by midday Thursday.

Scour works like Napster, but in addition to providing audio in the popular MP3 compressed format, Scour also offers constantly updated directories of video and picture files available for free trading online.

Other programs, including Gnutella, work on a distributed network system. Instead of having central servers maintain a list of available files, each user’s computer is in effect a server.

Gnutella was created by programmers working for America Online, which discontinued its development this year, but not after the program was downloaded and spread over the Internet. A few mouse clicks after launching the program, the user is soon connected to everyone logged on to the system.

One Web site that serves as a resource of information on Gnutella was so overwhelmed with visitors that operators took the service down for hours and planned to increase bandwidth to handle the traffic.

A Napster spokesman said the number of users logged on to the company’s servers Thursday was at an all-time high. In chat rooms, revolt was on the minds of many.

``Hey hey ... did everyone sign the boycott against the RIAA?″ wrote ``XsexyserialkillaX,″ referring to the Recording Industry Association of America, the plaintiff in the Napster case.


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