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Twenty lobby groups, companies try to influence trial judge(s)

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As the October kick-off date for the Napster trial nears, numerous interested parties - lobby groups, in other words - have begun filing Friend of the Court briefs providing information they hope will sway the court's final judgement one way or t'other.

The latest such filing took place last week when 20 organisations jointly signed a 'Napster should be banned' declaration.

The 20 are led by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), itself a vigorous pursuer of anyone it thinks has been infringing the intellectual property of its members. It recently won a gagging order on 2600.com after the hacker-oriented Web site posted the source code for the DeCSS DVD-on-Linux decoder utility.

Joining the MPAA are such bodies as the Association of American Publishers, the Professional Photographers Association, the Songwriters Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, better known by its abbreviation, Ascap.

These and other members of the 20 Friends of the Court all have a clear interest in protecting their members copyrights, and the Napster trial is likely to set some key precedents for future Internet-related intellectual property violation cases. They want to make sure that those precedents leave their members with a tighter, clearer grip on their work.

"We call on the court to recognise that America's creative communities must be able to protect their artistic works,'' the MPAA's vociferous president, Jack Valenti, said in a statement.

It's less clear, however, why the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball and the National Basketball Association want in on the act - presumably they fear we'll soon all be swapping illicit QuickTime movies of Lakers games...

We also note that Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed-Elsevier sneaked in too.

The 20 Friends of the Court are: the Motion Picture Association of America; the Software and Information Industry Association; the American Film Marketing Association; the Association of American Publishers; the American Society of Media Photographers; the Professional Photographers Association; the Graphic Artists Guild; the Interactive Digital Software Association; the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; Broadcast Music; the Producers Guild of America; the Directors Guild of America; the Writers Guild of America, West; the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada; Reed Elsevier; the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists; the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball; the National Basketball Association; the Songwriters Guild of America; and Amsong. ®

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