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EMI sues Bertelsmann over Napster

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EMI has joined Universal Music Group to sue Bertelsmann, parent of fellow 'big five' music label Bertelsmann Music Group, for investing in Napster and thus - they allege - promoting the piracy of their music.

Legal action against Bertelsmann began in February this
year when proceedings against the company were launched by an alliance of music publishers. Last month, Universal pitched in with a lawsuit of its own, and now so has EMI, as we predicted a couple of weeks ago.

Like Universal, EMI has filed the suit with the New York District Court. The two music labels have also taken action against Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, the US venture capital firm that once funded Napster.

Together, plaintiffs in the Bertelsmann cases are looking to gain $17 billion worth of damages from the German media giant, which piled more than $100 million into Napster.

That investment "enabled and encouraged the wholesale theft of copyrighted music", said EMI in a statement.

"Bertelsmann shocked the music industry by throwing Napster a financial lifeline specifically to ensure the system did not shut down," the lawsuit claims.

"With this suit, EMI is fighting to protect our right to control and receive the benefits of our copyrights and the rights of our artists to share in and enjoy those benefits and be compensated for their valuable creative endeavors," the company added.

Long after its demise, Napster remains the archetypal peer-to-peer music sharing service, and the only high-profile operation the music industry has successfully sued and shut down. Napster declared itself bankrupt a year ago. Its assets were bought by Roxio which wants to re-establish the service as a pay-per-download operation. ®

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