Don't expect any sympathy from Napster fans...
The big four record labels who hounded Napster through the courts and fought for the closure of the controversial file sharing site have been told the EU may now move to block the launch of their own sites set to provide music downloads.
Two rival offerings formed by alliances among the big four, Musicnet (EMI and Warner) and Pressplay (EMI, Sony and Universal), were set for launches next month but the EU has now stepped in over concerns of a duopoly in the market.
The two sites would have exclusive rights to the artists represented by their founding labels and the EU is concerned that the number of major labels competing with one another for online market share would effectively go from five, including Napster ally BMG who has come down on the side of MusicNet, to two. Only EMI has a foot in both camps.
At a meeting held this weekend, the EU decided the proposed services raise competition issues, as such offerings may be used to freeze out independent labels unable to compete with the combined might of some of the world's most powerful companies. The investigations are ongoing.