Originally created 05/11/00

Napster kicks off Metallica fans

SAN FRANCISCO -- Napster Inc., the online music-sharing service accused of violating recording-industry copyrights, said Wednesday it has cut off more than 300,000 users who allegedly traded songs by the heavy-metal band Metallica.

Metallica sued San Mateo-based Napster on April 13 for copyright infringement and racketeering, alleging that Napster software encouraged people to trade digital copies of the band's songs without permission.

Napster also is being sued by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Napster said it has shut down 317,377 accounts, identified by screen names, of people the band accused of music piracy. The list was delivered to Napster headquarters last week by Lars Ulrich, the band's drummer.

"Napster has taken extraordinary steps to comply with Metallica's demands to block hundreds of thousands of its fans from using the Napster system," said Napster attorney Laurence Pulgram.

Dejected fans had berated the band's actions on Internet message boards and chat rooms.

"This is not about Metallica versus the Internet," Ulrich said in a statement on the band's Web site. "We know that the Internet is the future in terms of spreading your music to your fans, and we're excited about that. But we want to control how that's done, just like we've always controlled what we make."

Napster had maintained that its service should be protected by a provision in federal law that limits the liability of Internet service providers who are sued for the actions of their users. Napster argued that is was merely a "conduit" for the trading of songs.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel rejected that defense Friday, ruling that Napster doesn't qualify as an Internet service provider.

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