Court expected to shut Napster down March 2nd.

By Richard Menta- 2/26/01

For those who are frantically downloading everything you can off of Napster before the courts shut it down, your new deadline date is next Friday. That is when U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel has set the next hearing date for the troubled company.

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On March 2nd, Patel will modify the preliminary injunction she handed down last July that was to have shut down Napster during the course of its trial against the major music labels.

Patel, who said the company had "created the monster," saw a halt put on her order until the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals investigated further. Last week, a three-judge panel from the court agreed with Patel declaring that the service can be held and an injunction against Napster was "not only warranted but required".

The panel also gave Napster a little more time when they ruled that Patel's original injunction was too broad and gave it back with instructions to retool it. It appears the expedient Patel has completed the modified injunction, satisfying the higher court's requirements for closing the service in just over a week. If Patel does shut down Napster, the service will most likely be given several working days to comply with the order before it ceases operations.

Napster has already filed a request for the rehearing with the full U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse that courts panel decision. If granted, it will give Napster more time.

If not, Napster may be closed for the duration of its upcoming trial. That will leave 60+ million users searching the Net for viable alternatives. They are out there, but services like Gnutella and Freenet don't scale as well as Napster and may be overwhelmed by the onslaught of disconnected Napster users.

We may also see an overseas Napster clone emerge, an identical service that is in a country beyond the reach of US copyright laws. One hasn't come up yet, but Napster's closing could spawn dozens of them by year's end.

As for Napster fans the only good news is that they have a little more time. That means marathon download sessions for many over the next several days.

Copyright MP3 Newswire 2001

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