Labels Win Latest Round In Suit Against Napster
October 26, 2006 at 1:53 PM (PT)
A judge ruled WEDNESDAY (10/25) that investment firm HUMMER WINBLAD VENTURE PARTNERS improperly urged its employees to delete emails about NAPSTER, the LOS ANGELES TIMES reports. Labels and music publishers had claimed that two major investors -- HUMMER and BERTELSMANN -- had helped NAPSTER users violate copyright laws, and U.S. District Judge MARILYN HALL PATEL ruled that jurors will be allowed to infer that the deleted emails might have hurt HUMMER's defense if the 3-year-old suit reaches trial.
According to documents in the suit, two days after HUMMER partners JOHN HUMMER and HANK BARRY were subpoenaed in a previous NAPSTER-related suit, partner ANN WINBLAND emailed employees urging them to delete certain email by saying, "As we have all been required to surrender our NAPSTER emails, this should reinforce compliance with our long-standing policies. We do not retain emails, it is your responsibility to delete your handled emails immediately."
PATEL ruled that WINBLAD told employees to delete future NAPSTER email even though the firm had a legal duty to preserve them and said that the firm's conduct "amounts to gross negligence," if not willful destruction.