Mediator Appointed in Napster Talks

Tuesday, February 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge has appointed a mediator in the case between the recording industry and Napster, the free Internet song-swapping service.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered the two sides to meet even before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Napster last week, according to Russell Frackman, an attorney representing recording companies.

Patel appointed retired federal Judge Eugene Lynch as mediator, Frackman said. He attended a meeting with lawyers from Napster and other plaintiffs at which Lynch explored potential mediation.

``What, if anything, is going to happen now is kind of up in the air,'' Frackman said.

On Feb. 12, a three-judge panel ruled that Napster enables millions of Web users to trade pirated music over the Internet in a wholesale violation of record label copyrights. The judges sent the case back to Patel, asking her to focus more narrowly her July injunction ordering Napster to shut down.

Courts were closed Monday and Patel could not be reached for comment.

Last Thursday, however, she suggested her inclination for a settlement.

``I think they (Napster and the recording companies) should all work out something,'' Patel said Thursday before hearing an unrelated case.

With Napster admitting its music free-for-all cannot continue in its current form, record labels would be well positioned during any mediation.

``It was always our position with Judge Lynch (that) the only thing that could be mediated were damages for past infringements and the form of injunctive relief going forward,'' Frackman said. ``Any business resolution that Napster might be interested in would have to be discussed ... with individual record companies.''

Napster attorney Lawrence Pulgram referred questions to a public relations company hired by the company. Calls to the company were not returned; a spokeswoman from another firm hired by Napster declined comment.