By RON HARRIS, Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Facing a recording industry lawsuit, a company that makes software to trade music over the Internet sought protection from copyright liability in federal court on Monday.
San Mateo, Calif.-based Napster Inc. is accused by the Recording Industry Association of America of encouraging users of the company's software and computer servers to trade copyrighted music online without permission.
"They have conceived a business that is based on infringement," said Russell Frackman, the recording association attorney.
The trade group, representing record companies and their artists, argued before Chief U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel that sharing music using Napster constitutes copyright infringement.
Napster attorney Laurence Pulgram asked Patel to rule that part of the federal 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act limited the company's potential liability.
Napster, founded by two college students, provides a free software application whereby users who are logged on to the Internet simultaneously can download MP3 music files from each other, free of charge.
Pulgram argued that Napster company was, in part, an Internet service provider that could, in the future, offer the transmission of other file types in addition to MP3.
Patel did not rule Monday.
About 100 universities across North America had to ban or restrict use of Napster to keep their Internet lines from becoming clogged by people trading music.
The recording association is seeking $100,000 for each work infringed and preliminary and permanent injunctions against further copyright infringement by Napster.
On the Net:
The Recording Industry Association of America: http://www.riaa.com
Napster, Inc.: http://www.napster.com