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"The ultimate Napster decision will set a precedent. Its outcome is important for all intellectual property."
——RIAA President and CEO Hilary Rosen
NAPSTER FEEDING FRENZY
Hurry! Because The Digital Fire Sale May Very Well End At 11 a.m. PST
Thousands of Napster fans flooded the service in a somewhat predictable download frenzy over the weekend.

Just as they had done when it looked like curtains for Napster waaaaay back in October of last year, music fans (or music pirates, depending upon your feelings about the file-sharing service) flooded the Net to fill their hard-drives with Napster-fueled goodies.

"Almost 10,000 users were logging on to each of Napster's 100 servers on Sunday at any one time," said Bruce Forest of Sapient Corp., adding that nearly 2 million songs were being swapped on each server. Napster's servers normally accommodate about 6,000 users at a time.

We're not the sharpest tools in the shed, but near as we can tell that figures out to a cool million users and 200 million songs.

The frenzy began almost immediately after the announcement on Friday (2/9) that the three-judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco would finally—after four months—issue its ruling on the recording industry's request that Napster be ordered to shut down (see related story).

"The ultimate Napster decision will set a precedent. Its outcome is important for all intellectual property," said RIAA President and CEO Hilary Rosen on Sunday. However, Rosen didn't see today's ruling as the final word on the issue, adding, "The question is: Is this just a pit stop or is this the finish line? If I had to guess today, I'd guess its going to be a pit stop."

Napster's legal team, led by David Boies "N The Hood," was preparing contingency plans in the event of an injunction.

Legal experts said that if an injunction is ordered, it could take days or weeks to take effect and that Napster would likely request a hearing before the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or possibly petition the Supreme Court.

"Great," said Boies, with weariness, "the Supreme Court. Those guys love me."

Conversely, if the appeals court overturns the injunction, the record companies could also take it to the Supreme Court, although most believe the companies would just see how the case plays out in the U.S. District Court. A trial is expected around April.

But, of course, shutting down Napster doesn't mean the end of free music downloads—just the end of really easy music downloads. "Thousands of users are also logging on to independent servers like MusicCity, OpenNap and PowerNap, which use the same server software as Napster but will be unaffected by Monday's court decision," Forest said.

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