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SightSound looks to shut down Napster - again

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Napster's future online has come into question once again with SightSound Technologies filing a motion on Monday to shut down the company's music download business.

SightSound, which holds numerous patents for the electronic sale of digital audio and video, has asked for a preliminary injunction against Napster. The motion filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania follows a patent infringement lawsuit filed back on 8 October 2004.

The two companies were close to agreeing on a deal out of court, but Napster then asked for a free licence to distribute videos, according to SightSound, which ended the negotiations.

"This lawsuit is the regrettable outcome of a long process that could have been resolved amicably," said SightSound CEO Scott Sander. "It is surprising that Napster has taken this road given that it seems to have been working to restore its brand value."

SightSound's patents seem to cover a broad swathe of what could be considered common web practices. Its patents, however, have held up in recent squabbles. In February 2004, it settled a patent infringement dispute against N2K and CDnow - units of Bertelsmann - to the tune of $3.3m.

The company was rather sly to bring up Napster's apparent video aspirations. So far, Napster has just been trying to build a music download business. If SightSound is correct, Napster will be looking to add more content to its service. ®

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