By Robert Menta
The Clinton Administration today has made it's announcement and a curious one at that. It seems they have taken sides in the Napster case.
In a move that can have significant legal repercussions for the popular file-swap program, The Feds have stepped in with a their amicus brief that sections of the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) being used in Napster's defense do not apply to the file-trading application. The brief was filed by not one, but three government agencies The US Copyright Office, the Patent and Trademark Office, and the Justice Department.
Twenty "friend-of-the-court" briefs from the major media conglomerates accompanied the government's brief including one from the Recording Industry Association of America, the group that is suing Napster.
The heart of the argument applies to that Section 1008 of the AHRA that lawyers for Napster claim protects the file-trading network. This argument, was dismissed by judge Patel who's finding ruled that the AHRA applies only to physically manufactured products such as portable music players, and does not extend to software applications.
"Section 1008 was adopted to address a very different phenomenon - the non-commercial consumer use of digital audio recording devices such as DAT tape decks, to perform 'home taping' of musical works," the government wrote to the court in support of Patel's ruling. "Napster's efforts to bring itself within the ambit of Section 1008 flouts the terms of the statute."
The government pointed out four points in their brief:
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