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Napster to filter its network starting this weekend

Last-ditch effort to forestall closure

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Napster will implement a content filtering system this weekend which will prevent users from trading pirated music through its Web site, company lawyer David Boies told federal District Judge Marilyn Patel in San Francisco Friday, in a last-ditch effort to keep the company in operation until it can face charges of copyright infringement at trial.

Patel heard arguments from the recording industry and Napster in preparation to modify an injunction with which she slapped the company, but which a federal appeals court subsequently remanded to her for adjustment earlier this month.

"We have had a group of people working night and day on a process to block access to these files," Boies assured the judge. "What we are doing is inserting a step between the uploading and the viewing of the index...that will block out specific file names."

However, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is not inclined to give Napster any quarter, now that it feels the law is on its side. "It is an ongoing, long and tedious process," RIAA shyster Russ Frackman said. "We don't believe there should be a negotiation at this late stage over format."

"We see that Napster can filter out unauthorized songs," RIAA flack Hillary Rosen told reporters during a press conference just after the proceedings. "They argued before this court last year -- they argued last September at the Ninth Circuit that they couldn't. Today they finally said what we've all known for over a year, that they absolutely can filter out unauthorized works."

The judge did not issue a modified injunction Friday, and it is not known when precisely she will do so.

It is reasonable to expect that she will word the new injunction to enable Napster to remain in business between now and when it goes to trial, so long as its filtering scheme works as advertised. "It is left to me to fashion an injunction that makes sense based on what I've heard," she said once the arguments had been presented. ®

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