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It’s not over till the fat lady stops singing

Napster clings on to the MP3 throne by the skin of its teeth, as the saga continues and the court battle drags on Judge Patel disappoints the recording industry but keeps song-swappers very happy.

Far from taking the tough approach on her last injunction, which required Napster to locate and remove all copy righted songs, US District Judge Marilyn Patel turned the tables and suggested the industry “seek clarification in the court of appeals”.

The music-swapping service appealed against Patel’s initial ruling to block certain songs from being downloaded as Napster found itself blocking more songs than they needed to, given the way that file names had been submitted by the recording companies.

Patel’s recent decision has meant that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) will have to scour the Napster network and name the specific MP3 files which contain infringing work.

“It was obvious that Napster’s self-selected, technologically archaic filter could never significantly limit access to the plaintiffs’ music. Yet, Napster contemptuously refuses to employ an effective filter – for fear that it might actually work,” said one RIAA insider.

At the recent court hearing the RIAA petitioned that “it is not, and should not be, the plaintiff’s burden to dictate how Napster should filter. However, there are technologies readily available that would permit Napster more effectively to filter the files available on its system.”

We all ought to sit down and settle this case as fast as we can," said Napster chief executive, Hank Barry. "We're saying this is something consumers really want. Let's do something to keep it going."

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