THE END FOR NAPSTER?

It could be the end if a US court decides the file-sharing application is guilty of copyright infringement...

A US court may order an injunction to shut down NAPSTER later today (February 12), if it is found to be guilty of copyright infringement.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will issue its verdict on the future of the controversial file-sharing network later this afternoon.

Last July, a court issued an injunction against Napster, saying it was guilty of “wholesale” copyright infringement by allowing users to download MP3 files of copyrighted songs for free.

However, Napster were allowed to stay in operation while a panel of three judges reviewed the arguments from both Napster representatives and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a banner organisation representing many major record labels including, amongst others Sony, Universal and Warner Brothers, who are making the claim. The result of the review is due by 11am, PST.

Speaking about the forthcoming verdict, RIAA president Hilary Rosen said: “Monday’s decision may finally clear the way for the legitimate online marketplace to thrive in an environment that encourages both creativity and a respect for copyright.”

Since the initial trial last year, Napster has formed a series of bonds with record labels, including music giant BMG and the independent Edel Music. Both are hoping Napster will become a subscription service, whereby users pay a small fee, which is then paid to copyright holders.

The BBC reports that thousands of music fans have been logging on to Napster over the weekend ahead of the ruling. They claim that 10,000 people logged onto each of Napster’s 100 servers yesterday (February 11), sharing almost two million MP3 files.