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Napster Transmission of Audio Files Was Not Fair Use; Injunction Against Operation to Stand
Description Appeals court upheld an injunction against the operation of Napster, an Internet service provider that facilitated the copying of music files. The copying is infringement, not fair use, and Napster is liable for contributory and vicarious infringement. The court may enjoin the operation rather than order payment of royalties to music owners.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Copyright; Infringement; Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Napster, an Internet service that facilitates the transmission and retention of digital audio files by its users, was sued by record companies and music publishers for copyright infringement. About 70 percent of the files on Napster are owned by the plaintiffs. The district court granted a preliminary injunction against Napster, which was appealed.
Decision Plaintiffs established a prima facie case of direct copyright infringement. The users' activities via Napster was not fair use of the copyrighted works. The Audio Home Recording Act does not apply because that applies to noncommercial use. Napster contributed to the infringement that occurred and is not entitled to a "safe harbor" under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act since Napster knew of and facilitated the copyright violations. Napster is also liable for vicarious copyright infringement for facilitating the copying. Napster is not entitled to be required to pay royalties rather than have an injunction issued against its facilitating the infringement. The district court is ordered to amend its injunction against Napster to account for this holding.
Citation A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc., - F.3d - (2001 WL 115033, 9th Cir., 2001)

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