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"We are still trying to persuade all labels to work with Napster and give them a license and the talks are going pretty well."
——Bertelsmann's Frank Sarfeld

NAPSTER: QUESTIONS ANSWERED, ANSWERS QUESTIONED

How's The Netco’s Relationship With Bertelsmann Faring? Depends Whom You Ask
While the Napster legal battle drags on, the embattled swappery's future is about as clear as mud.

Is Napster close to alliances with the major labels? Is Bertelsmann still planning to re-launch Napster as a legal subscription service this summer? And is Bertelsmann pushing Napster forward or just away?

They're all good questions. And the answer to each of them appears to be a definite "yes and no."

Yesterday, according to Reuters, Bertelsmann said talks with music industry giants were going well.

"We are still trying to persuade all labels to work with Napster and give them a license and the talks are going pretty well," Frank Sarfeld, spokesman for Bertelsmann's e-commerce group, told Reuters.

Reuters also speculated that Bertelsmann had a decent chance of convincing Sony and Vivendi Universal to offer a license to Napster via their Duet subscription service.

"The talks should be finished up soon," said an industry source in the Reuters piece. "The labels are realizing the potential of Napster's 72 million users."

But other reports yesterday had Bertelsmann abandoning plans to persuade the major labels to ally with Napster, citing the remaining four major labels' resolve to continue their litigation against the netco.

The Financial Times went so far as to say that Bertelsmann was distancing itself from the swappery, despite its financial stake in the company and its announced plans to re-launch the netco as a legal subscription service this summer.

However, the FT story did contain contradictions, stating that the German media giant was talking with other media groups about forming wider alliances with Napster—deals which could involve the exchange of other media, such as video, through Napster's file-sharing network.

"We'll do whatever we can to make Napster successful," Sarfeld told the Associated Press on Wednesday, reaffirming that the company was still committed to Napster.

So, at the end of the story, we're back at the beginning. Is Napster close to alliances with the major labels? Is Bertelsmann still going to re-launch Napster as a legal subscription service this summer? And is Bertelsmann pushing Napster forward or just away?

Well, this much is certain: Don't look to the court for answers—not yet anyway.

On Tuesday, despite calling Napster's attempts at filtering copyrighted music "disgraceful" and suggesting Napster possibly be shut down (hitsdailydouble.com, 4/11), Judge Marilyn Hall Patel decided to wait to hear the opinion of the mediator she appointed just one day before (hitsdailydouble.com, 4/10).

So, that's it then. We'll all just wait for the mediator to do his business. Then, we'll have our answers. In the meantime, I guess there's always word games.

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THE BRITISH
ARE COMING
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AND THE GRAMMY NOMINEES ARE...
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TURKEY
Basting.
STUFFING
Stuffing.
YAMS
Candying.
PUMPKIN PIE
Stuffing (in face).
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