A US federal court is set to rule today on the fate of Napster, the Internet song-sharing service which is being sued by the recording industry for copyright infringement.
Fans of the song sharing service Napster have been logging on by the tens of thousands for a last-minute grab at music they fear may be knocked offline.
Nearly 10,000 users logged on to just one of Napster’s more than 100 computer servers sharing nearly two million free MP3 song files, according to the Web site. A sample use last July saw 7,300 users sharing 800,000 files.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals is set to rule on a lower court’s injunction against the company based in Redwood City, California. The recording industry sued Napster in December 1999 for copyright infringement.
The appeals court stayed the injunction in July, allowing Napster to stay online. If the court reinstates the injunction, Napster could be crippled.
UCLA student James Papasin, 23, said he was not panicking. Papasin said if Napster had to shut down he could easily find other ways to get free music by massaging the right Internet search engines.
‘‘You can just search for whatever music you want and it directs you to links where you can download the music from people’s private servers,’’ Papsin said about his Napster alternative. ‘‘It’s pretty impossible to police all those sites.’’
Despite allegations of illegal trading via the service, Napster’s base of registered users has exploded and challenged major record labels to consider different methods of reaching consumers online.
Napster has remained confident that its service will withstand the legal test, saying on its website over the weekend: ‘‘We have great confidence in our legal position.’’
The Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group representing record labels, has argued that Napster illegally connects users bent on giving away copyrighted material without permission.
‘‘Monday’s decision may finally clear the way for the legitimate online marketplace to thrive in an environment that encourages both creativity and a respect for copyright,’’ RIAA president Hilary Rosen said in a statement released on Friday.