CAN NAPSTER BE SAVED?

The company's CEO Hank Barry is in "serious negotiations" with the powers that be...

NAPSTER CEO HANK BARRY has said he is in “serious negotiations” with major labels in the US to try and forge a last-minute truce with the record industry before the axe finally falls on the site.

And the Recording Industry of America Association has indicated that its members could be open to negotiating deals with the company.

According to reports on [url=]www.mtv.com, Barry is making a last-minute behind the scenes bid to avert the lawsuits being waged by major labels, which could result in damages totalling billions of dollars – up to $100,000 per song whose copyright is found to have been infringed.

As previously reported on NME.COM, an injunction against the file-swapping software provider was heard by an appeals court in San Francisco on Monday (February 12), and while it has been referred back to a District court, the judges agreed with the majority of the Recording Industry of America Association’s legal arguments, including the key point that file-swapping by music fans infringes copyright. It is now almost certain that the RIAA will be successful in closing down the site.

However, the site’s founder Shawn Fanning and Barry are hoping to negotiate deals with major labels along the lines of the agreement reached with BMG to create a subscription-based version of its service, where fans will pay to download songs by BMG artists.

And RIAA president Hilary Rosen has indicated that major labels represented by the body may be willing to consider settlement proposals.

“We feel really strongly there’s a big win here, not only for the consumers but for the record companies and artists. In the background, we’re still trying to settle to keep the community alive,” Fanning told MTV news.

And he took a defiant tone, adding: “We’re going to maintain file-sharing. People [putting] up music that they want to share with other people results in so much stuff out there that you can’t find anywhere else. If we were to change that, it wouldn’t be Napster any more, and it wouldn’t be nearly as valuable to the user.”

BMG chief Andreas Schmitd added that: “File-sharing is here to stay, and we will continue to build a membership-based Napster service that will be supported by the music industry.”