ONLINE MUSIC Napster copycats alleged
Napster is gone, but a lawsuit says its clones are still stealing music.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
A music publishers group that controls hits like "Moon River" and "Jailhouse Rock" has joined the legal battle against what it calls Napster copycat services.
The suit by the National Music Publishers Association says online file sharing programs Kazaa, Morpheus and Grokster encourage "wholesale infringement of the world's most popular songs."
Filled void: The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, is the latest legal salvo by the entertainment industry against three firms that filled the void left by Napster -- Consumer Empowerment BV of the Netherlands, MusicCity Networks Inc. of Tennessee and Grokster Inc. of the West Indies.
"Our view is these services are basically Napster clones," said NMPA attorney Carey Ramos. "In many respects, what these services are doing is even worse than Napster because they have advertising up, and they're clearly making money by exploiting the value of songwriters' musical works."
The NMPA represents about 800 music publishers, while its subsidiary, the Harry Fox Agency, licenses music to 27,000 publishers. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who wrote "Jailhouse Rock" and "Hound Dog," are lead plaintiffs in the suit, just as they were in the Motion Picture Association of America's suit against Napster Inc. of Redwood City.
The NMPA reached a tentative settlement and licensing agreement with Napster in September.
Napster shut down in July to comply with a court order. Many Napster users switched to Kazaa, Morpheus and Grokster and swapped nearly 2 billion music and movie files in October alone.
Technology use: Consumer Empowerment, also known as FastTrack, released Kazaa, which uses technology also licensed by MusicCity and Grokster.