Up to 1 million MP3 files could be removed as early as this weekend following a court hearing in the US...

NAPSTER have offered to filter up to one million MP3 files of copyrighted songs from their service in an attempt to avoid being shut-down by a US appeal court.

Napster representatives were at the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco yesterday (March 2) before US District Court Judge Marilyn Patel, who is formulating a revised injunction against the controversial file sharing network.

According to US press reports, Napster’s lawyer David Boies revealed plans whereby Napster would screen its service for copyrighted file names, provided by record companies, from appearing when users search for songs.

According to BBC news, Boies said: “We are inserting a step between the uplink and the viewing of the index that will block out specific file names. The problem is that this will adversely affect performance of the system.”

Boies said that the technology could be implemented within a week.

Speaking in a statement following the case, Hilary Rosen, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said: “We are grateful for the Court’s diligent efforts to fashion an appropriate injunction and look forward to an order which makes clear that the infringing part of Napster’s business – taking music which isn’t theirs and giving it away – must come to an end.

“Given the overwhelming nature of this Court’s and the Ninth Circuit’s earlier conclusions that Napster violates copyright laws, we’re confident that ultimately this will pave the way for a legitimate online music market to take hold and flourish.”

Napster CEO Hank Barry said he continues to “(fight) to preserve the Napster community and the Napster file sharing experience”.

He continued: “We proposed a workable injunction that follows the 9th Circuit ruling and keeps the Napster community together while we are working to settle this case and transition to our new membership-based service. While we await the judges modified injunction and while we continue to pursue our legal case, we will begin later this weekend to block the transfer of file names we have previously received from copyright holders, consistent with the 9th Circuit’s ruling.

“We are working hard and fast to implement our new service. Napster… has been working for months to put in place a new membership-based service that has a solid business model and secure technology. We will continue to press forward in our effort to reach agreement with the other major recording companies.

“We must come up with a solution that works for consumers and pays artists. Let us never lose sight that the members of the Napster community are the worlds most passionate music fans and the industry’s best customers.”

The injunction relates to a copyright infringement case brought in 1999 by the major record labels under the banner of the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA). They claim that Napster are infringing on their copyright by allowing users to download MP3 files for free. An injunction was served last July, but last month an appeal court ruled the injunction should be narrowed.

Following the February hearing, Napster have been fighting to settle the case, and have revealed plans to become a subscription-based service, with funds raised going to record labels.

However, the labels have so far rejected the idea, and some are in the process of developing their own alternatives to Napster.

It is currently unclear when a final decision will be made by the court.