Feeds

Bertelsmann will have to go to court for Napster, after all

Law is competition by other means

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

It would be easy to think that Bertelsmann should start to worry over its part in keeping the original Napster live via investment, as this week a US court threw out its call for summary dismissal of the case. Back in April and May 2003 EMI and the Universal Music Group took out suits against the investors of Napster, an act that Faultline said at the time made a mockery of corporate limited liability law.

A German court agreed with us and said that it was “against Germany’s constitution” to allow a US court to judge a Germany based company, and called for the case to be dismissed. That’s like red rag to a bull and no US court would ever agree that anything is outside of its jurisdiction if a foreign court simply says it is.

Bertelsmann is in the frame with venture capital company Hummer Winblad which between them invested $98m in the early version of Napster, which was subsequently found guilty of large-scale copyright infringement.

However, Judge Patel from the US District Court of San Francisco also ruled that placing a song on a central index was not a crime and that the plaintiffs would have to prove specific cases of illegal downloads.

This could set up a tit-for-tat war. If Bertelsmann is seen to be victimized purely as a means of competition, which is what the German court suggested, then it could retaliate in a German court against EMI and Universal.

The two sides will now prepare for trial and the suing labels will have to prove that Bertelsmann knew what Napster was doing, and that it had control over it, as well as proving that copyrights were infringed.

It will also have to demonstrate the extent of the infringement. All of that seems to mean that there is not much point in a trial, but the lawyers are having a field day with this, so the early indications that it would be settled cheaply out of court now seem less likely.

Copyright © 2005, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

Related articles

Intel 'backs' Bertelsmann P2P project
Bertelsmann makes first Napster settlement
SightSound looks to shut down Napster - again
Sony talks to Grokster
US green-lights Sony BMG merger
Judge will not dismiss 'Napster investor' suit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
NATO declares WAR on Google Glass, mounts attack alongside MPAA
Yes, the National Association of Theater Owners is quite upset
Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road
It's hard enough to peel the onion, are you hard enough to eat the core?
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.