June 16, 2000 4:15 PM PDT

DOJ counsel takes up Napster's cause

Music-swapping firm Napster has nabbed a powerful ally in its legal fight with the record industry: the Justice Department's special counsel in the antitrust case against Microsoft.

Lawyer David Boies and his firm, Boies Schiller & Flexner, have joined Napster's legal team, which faces a heated battle against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) regarding copyright infringement.

The RIAA and other record labels have filed a lawsuit against Napster, contending the firm contributed to copyright infringement as a result of its members trading songs through the service.

"This case raises important questions of how the copyright laws are to be applied to this new medium," Boies said in a statement. "This case also raises the question of whether an Internet directory can be held liable for permitting users to engage in sharing, which is not only permitted but encouraged on a small scale, simply because the scale of the Internet greatly increases the extent of the sharing."

Napster also said see related story: Napster tests new copyright lawtoday it has struck deals with independent labels and unsigned artists to make their music available through its software. On Tuesday, the RIAA asked a judge to block all major-label content from being traded through the service.

Other labels involved in the lawsuit include Warner Music Group, BMG Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Sony Music, which won a partial victory in the suit when a federal judge rejected Napster's first attempt to have the case dismissed. The industry has asked the judge for a preliminary injunction against the company.

Founded in 1997, Boies Schiller & Flexner specializes in litigation, international arbitration and corporate transactional work.

 

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