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Judge takes Napster off life support

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The proposed sale of Napster's remains to German media powerhouse Bertelsmann has been blocked by bankruptcy judge Peter Walsh in Wilmington, Delaware on concerns that the executive in charge of the batered file sharing outfit, Konrad Hilbers, was a bit too cozy with the German brass and his motives in repeatedly subsidizing the operation were therefore suspect.

This was, of course, the recording industry's line in the matter, which the judge obediently reflected in his decision. "The $72.5 million in funding provided by Bertelsmann to Napster was advanced, in each case, in a lump sum and without any procedures put in place to ensure that it would not be used to run Napster's illegal copyright infringement business," the industry whinged in a recent court filing, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Bertelsmann intended to buy the Napster carcass for an additional $8 million, after pouring $85 million into the doomed company in hopes of salvaging it after a withering legal assault from an outraged music cabal which spent uncounted millions destroying the first major challenger to its ironclad distribution monopoly.

There hasn't been much left of Napster in the past year or so; and now the judge has pulled the plug on its life-support mechanism so it can die a natural death.

No doubt Bertelsmann is relieved by the outcome, as it had already decided to abandon the novel venture. ®

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