Napster -- already inoperative for almost two weeks as engineers fix technical glitches with its new song filtering system -- was hit with a fresh blow Wednesday when U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered it not to resume operations until that system is 100 percent effective.
Napster CEO Hank Barry vowed to appeal that order to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, saying Patel's ruling "threatens all peer-to-peer file sharing over the Internet.''
"While we are disappointed by this ruling, we will work with the technical expert to enable file transfers as soon as possible and we are continuing full steam ahead toward the launch of our new service later this summer,'' Barry said in a statement issued late Wednesday.
Patel in March issued a preliminary injunction against Napster, requiring it to block song files that are covered by music industry copyright.
Napster suspended file-sharing July 2 for a self-imposed shutdown as it battled technical glitches related to its latest upgrade, which was intended to help it comply with Patel's order.
Barry said Napster was confident that its new filters were ''99 percent effective in identifying and screening out noticed works,'' although he said a ``very limited number'' of copyrighted songs still made it through.
That clearly was not enough for Patel, who decided to keep the service dark rather than risk more copyright violations.
Patel's decision was hailed by Napster's foes in the recording industry, who declared that ``any attempt to hide illegal activity behind the shield of technological innovation will not be tolerated.''
"While we appreciate that Napster is attempting to migrate to a legitimate business model, its inability to prevent copyright infringement from occurring on its system has only hampered the development of the marketplace in which it now hopes to compete,'' Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said in a statement.
While Napster's legal battles continue, the once wildly popular service has seen usage plummet as it imposes more controls over the trading of copyrighted music and Internet users migrate to other, easier music trading systems.
Research firm Webnoize reported in late June that users shared an average of 1.5 songs each on Napster's service, down from an average of 220 songs shared per user in February. Since the self-imposed shut-down July 2, they have not been traded at all.