EMI, the UK music major, says it could join in a $17bn lawsuit against Bertelsmann, its German rival, for supporting Napster, the iconic music file trading service.
In a conference call yesterday, EMI senior execs blamed music piracy for a nine per cent fall in global music sales in 2002. They forecast another 4-5 per cent fall on the back of piracy.
The company said it was likely to participate in a copyright infringement case against Bertelsmann, if it reaches class action status, the FT reports.
Universal Music last week said it would join the suit, filed by a group of songwriters and publishers in New York in February.
EMI is, along with Universal, already sueing Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, the Silicon Valley VC firm, for giving Napster a lease of life. HWVP gave Napster a $13m capital infusion in April 2000, prolonging the file-swapping service, the record labels say.
Napster is to be reborn, but in name only. New owner Roxio is to graft the brand onto a technology platform supplied by PressPlay, its latest acquisition. In other words, Napster is well and truly defanged, rising from the grave as a wholly conventional music download service, DRM technology and all. ®