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Napster bends over and takes it from Metallica

Grovelling apology ends legal action

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Napster has settled its few remaining differences with Metallica, the rock band that sued the music sharing company last year and first forced it to block the sharing of copyright material - by booting off anyone who offered Metallica songs.

There appears to be little to the settlement than a cessation of hostilities in return for what is effectively a grovelling apology from Napster. Full terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Napster did say Metallica had granted it the right to allowed the band's songs to be shared in the future by paying subscribers.

Napster's apology comes in the form of an admission by interim CEO Hank Barry that Metallica was right all along. "We... regret any harm which this dispute may have caused them," he said.

And: "Metallica has taken a courageous stand and a tough and principled approach to the protection of its name and creative output, and that of other artists. They brought to our attention essential artists' rights issues which we've addressed in our new technology."

And this from Napster founder Shawn Fanning: "Even when we were at odds with Metallica, we always understood that they had the best interests of artists in mind."

In other words, Napster didn't have "the best interests of artists in mind".

So why all this abasement? Clearly, it's all about persuading the US court that artists are at last on Napster's side. The timing of the announcement, which came just after US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered Napster to shut down its service until it could offer a 100 per cent effective bar to the sharing of unauthorised material, is no coincidence.

Certainly Metallica's beef had essentially been addressed by the court's requirement that Napster stop copyright material from being shared, something that took place months ago. ®

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