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Judge Rules That Napster Breaks Copyright Law

By James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO, July 26 – A federal judge today ordered Napster Inc. to halt the operations of its phenomenally popular song-sharing Internet service, saying the upstart company was allowing copyrighted music to be copied illegally.

The preliminary injunction, set to take effect Friday, would effectively shut down the Web site, which has more than 13 million users and has come to define the monumental conflict between the openness of the Internet and intellectual property rights.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel – siding with the Recording Industry Association of America, which brought the suit last December – said she found "overwhelming" evidence that the site was created to allow music lovers to pirate copyrighted works.

"I find the plaintiffs have established not only a reasonable likelihood of success, but have shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits," Patel said in a ruling from the bench after nearly three hours of arguments.

Napster attorney David Boies won the two-day reprieve to provide time to seek an emergency stay on the order from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The recording industry agreed to post a $5 million bond should Napster eventually prevail.

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