Napster, in a fight for its life, will remain open at least through March 2, when a federal judge will hold hearings on an order sought by record labels barring unauthorized songs from being traded over the network, both sides confirmed.
US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel issued a brief order Thursday directing attorneys from the popular song-swapping service and the recording industry to appear in court in San Francisco. In July, Patel ordered Napster to shut down, but the ruling was postponed two days later so that a federal appeals court panel could review it. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled last week that an injunction was warranted but instructed Patel to make modifications.
Lawyers for Napster and the Recording Industry Association of America will have a chance at the hearing to argue exactly what Patel's modified order should include. The industry alleges in a lawsuit that Napster aids and encourages massive copyright infringement by allowing users to download millions of songs for free. Neither Napster nor the RIAA would comment.
Napster has been trying to settle the dispute out of court. On Tuesday, it offered to pay record labels $1 billion over five years. So far, only one major media company - BMG parent Bertelsmann - has signed on to the proposal.