Labels ask time-out in Napster battle

Were they about to lose?

Something seems amiss in the Recording industry's copyright battle with Napster, as the labels have sought and been granted a 30-day time-out in the action, the Associated Press reports.

According to the report, the labels will seek a settlement during the cease-fire. "Only Capitol Records and Virgin Records America didn't join in the request to US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel," the wire service says.

The industry has not yet commented on the unusual turn of events, but one is tempted to wonder if the plaintiffs have lost confidence in their case. They certainly were full of studly arrogance last year when they ostentatiously disdained Napster's $1 billion bribe to let it live.

But since the damage has been done, it's hard to imagine Napster coughing up a sum like that today, as it's been re-jiggering itself as a copyright-friendly subscription service with backing from Media heavyweight BMG, and is, it maintains, nearly ready to re-launch itself.

One also has to wonder if the DoJ's recent interest in the antitrust implications of the music industry's licensing practices could have anything to do with Wednesday's development.

No doubt Recording Ass. of America President Hillary Rosen will explain it all to us very soon. We look forward to hearing more about this unique victory for the sanctity of copyright. ®

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