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MP3.com's battle with RIAA not ours – Napster

Two cases distinct says lawyer - though both about copyright theft

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Napster moved to distance its legal wrangle with the music industry from MP3.com's own tussle with the world's biggest recording companies - which could see MP3.com paying up to $250 million in punitive damages for copyright theft.

Napster's battle with the Recording Industry Association of America comes to court next month, and since the case, like that of MP3.com, centres on alleged violation of intellectual property rights, the last thing Napster wants is for its own defence to overshadowed by the ruling against MP3.com.

"We believe Judge Rakoff's decision on the MP3.com case is both factually and legally distinct from the Napster case,'' said Jonathan Schiller, one of Napster's legal team, told Reuters.

"US District Judge Jed Rakoff found MP3.com liable for direct infringement because it copied tens of thousands of CDs for its own commercial purposes,'' he said.

"Nobody at Napster can be accused of direct infringement because we have not copied any of the works. Our technology is completely different and Napster has been accused of contributory infringement."

True, but Napster's opponent, the RIAA, regards the effect as much the same: that Napster is enabling music piracy for its own "commercial purposes", to use Schiller's words.

The RIAA will this week file its response to Napster's call, made on 18 August, for the US appeal court to throw out its case altogether. That request follows the appeal court's decision to overturn a preliminary injunction on Napster granted to the RIAA back in July. ®

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