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San Francisco judge shuts down Napster

Plus, ”Planet of the Apes,” Kid Rock, Angelina Jolie, Rage Against the Machine, and more

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Shawn Fanning
George Nikitin/AP/Wide World

NAPSTER As of midnight Friday, Napster will basically be gone. In a quick and dramatic ruling, San Francisco judge Marilyn Hall Patel said that Napster users are engaged in ”wholesale” piracy, and ordered a preliminary injunction that forces the song swapping service to stop trading copyrighted music by tomorrow night. Though lawyers on both sides had expected a lengthy deliberation, Patel issued her ruling only 10 minutes after hearing arguments. ”The question is, you have designed a system enabling infringing and piracy: Can you stand back and say ‘We didn’t know that’?” she said. Napster CEO Hank Barry vowed to continue fighting as the battle escalates to a full trial over the future of the Internet and copyright law. ”We’ll fight this in a variety of ways, to keep the Napster community going and strong,” he said. Of course, right now, the service’s 20 million users are about as tightly connected as ever. A downloading frenzy began shortly after news of the judge’s decision; servers that usually carry some 500,000 songs are now trading upwards of 800,000. If free song swapping is permanently eliminated from the Net, it will likely take a long time to ferret out all of the offenders. In just one example, a similar service called OpenNap has said that it is poised to launch as soon as Napster is shut down.

POTTER WATCH Tim Roth, the man who might have been Professor Snape, would apparently rather be one of Tim Burton’s apes. The actor has committed to playing a lead role opposite Mark Wahlberg in ”Planet of the Apes,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. The project is set to begin filming in the fall for a possible July 4, 2001, debut. It has been widely rumored that Roth was also offered the critical role in Warner’s Chris Columbus directed adaptation of ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” though studio reps had never officially confirmed his involvement. Maybe he finally got a chance to see ”Home Alone 2.”

LEGALESE Kid Rock‘s legal woes seem unending. Kelley Russell, Rock’s ex girlfriend and the mother of his son, is suing the hip-hopper over what she believes are ”graphic, inflammatory, untrue, hurtful remarks” about her in Rock’s hit song ”Black Chic, White Guy,” from ”Devil Without a Cause.” The lyrics describe a woman who has three children by three different men, and who had ”no man, no money, and no clue.” Kid Rock’s lawyer says that he is confident that the case will be thrown out.

CASTING Angelina Jolie is apparently ready to take on something a little heftier than ”Tomb Raider.” Variety reports that the Oscar winner is in negotiations to star opposite Kevin Costner in Oliver Stone’s international relief worker romance ”Beyond Borders,” which is loosely based on the Nobel Prize winning organization Doctors Without Borders. See! Vaccinations CAN be sexy.

TV NEWS Emmy nominations are obviously trading at top dollar. Aaron Sorkin, the creative chief behind ”The West Wing”— which earned 18 Emmy nods — has signed a four year production and development deal with Warner Bros. Television that is worth some $15-16 mil, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The deal marks Sorkin’s first lengthy exclusive production commitment.

TOURS Rage Against the Machine has postponed two scheduled gigs this weekend in San Francisco, where the band was supposed to record a live album, DVD, and home video, according to Launch. The move comes soon after the previously reported delay of the Rhyme and Reason Tour, which was supposed to begin Aug. 2 in Toronto and has been put off because of the injury of Beastie Boy Mike D. A spokesperson for the group said that the cancellation prompted the band to hold off its recording project.