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BMG damns Napster 'they wouldn't co-operate' claim

Cat fight continues out of court

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'Big five' recording company BMG yesterday damned comment from Napster CEO Hank Barry that the music industry was unresponsive to the MP3 sharing software company's attempts at conciliation as "completely inaccurate".

Quite the reverse, claimed BMG's new-technology president and spin-doctor-in-chief, Kevin Conroy. His company, for one, proposed "various business proposals with Napster".

So why did nothing come of it? "Napster has never addressed the important issue of licensing nor proposed anything approaching a sound, legitimate business model," claimed Conroy.

On Monday, while his company's lawyers were seeking to persuade the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal to permanently remove the injunction placed upon it by the District Court, Barry said he had talked to all five major labels - EMI, BMG, Sony, Universal and Warner - about working together.

"We're willing to pay very substantial amount to the artists," he said. "With a very conservative estimate, the first-year payments to the artists would be in the neighbourhood of a half a billion dollars." That's based on charging Napster users a $4.95 monthly fee.

And yesterday, he stuck to his line. "I stand by what I said earlier. I made several proposals to each of the five major record companies and their music publishing affiliates. Each proposal would result in payments of substantial percentages of Napster's expected revenues to compensate artists and rights holders," he told Reuters.

The issue is, of course, that Napster doesn't really have any "expected revenues" because it has not business model worth speaking of. And there's no reason to assume that Napster users, used to getting music for nowt, would be happy to fork out five bucks a month instead. That may well explain why BMG proved unwilling to entertain Barry's proposals. Equally, Barry may not have made any move on supporting copyright protection technology. ®

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