The Internet company who've enraged Dr Dre and Metallica are found to be liable for the copyright violations of it's users..

Napster, the under-fire Internet company at the centre of a worldwide MP3 file-swapping debate, has lost a significant court battle.

In a Califorian court Chief Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled against the company’s claim that it is a “mere conduit” for music swapping. Instead she found Napster to be liable for the copyright violations of its users.

The ruling relates to an action brought by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against Napster for copyright infringement. The RIAA brought the case in December of last year on behalf of the major record labels, including Universal, Sony, Warner Brothers and BMG.


Hilary Rosen, RIAA President, expressed delight at removing Napster‘s “last delaying tactic”.

“The case [against them] will now move forward,” she said. “This hearing was Napster‘s attempt to escape responsibility for aiding and abetting wide-scale piracy and, not surprisingly, they lost.”

The judgement will also impact on high-profile lawsuits Napster is facing at present from Dr Dre and Metallica where they have been using a similar defence. It could also open the floodgates to countless more complaints.

Napster also recently revealed it is spending US$1.8 million to back the forthcoming Limp Bizkit/Cypress Hill free tour of the US. At present it is unclear if the tour will go ahead if further judgements go against them.