Napster files court appeal

Music file-swapping service Napster Inc. has filed a petition for a rehearing in the court ruling that found the company in violation of copyright law. The company is requesting that the full Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals hear the case, Napster said in a statement late Friday.

The petition, in effect an appeal to the full court, is Napster’s last avenue of appeal to the Ninth Circuit. The company said it has not yet decided whether it would take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, its final option.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled in the case on Feb. 12, in a decision that was a major victory for record companies and has put Napster on the defensive.

In a recent salvo, the company offered US$1 billion in payments to the record companies in return for rights to their music, an initiative that was mocked by recording industry representatives.

Napster called the panel’s ruling “overbroad,” and added that it would violate the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech, as well as undermine provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protecting the rights of ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

The company also said that an injunction halting the exchange of music would put the brakes on the development of new technology.

“A compulsory royalty, rather than an injunction, would be the proper means to harmonize rights holder protection with promotion of new technologies used for noncommercial copying,” Napster said.

Napster, in San Mateo, Calif., can be reached at