A friend of mine, Mark Radcliffe from Gray Cary, sent me a PDF of the Hummer complaint last night (Capital Records et al. vs. Hummer Winblad Venture Partners et al.). It essentially alleges no more than 1) Napster contributorily infringed the Plaintiffs' copyrights; 2) Hummer Winblad invested $13 million in Napster at a time when it needed the money; 3) Hummer Winblad and its partners Hank Barry and John Hummer controlled Napster through their equity ownership in Napster and their participation as board members and CEO; therefore 4) Hummer Winblad, Hank Barry and John Hummer contributorily infringed the Plaintiffs' copyrights. I am told by folks closer to the copyright laws than I that there are in fact cases that have found officers and directors directly liable for the copyright infringement of their companies. If that is in fact the case, it's bad law and at odds with the very principles of corporate law.
Interestingly, Judge Patel threw out similar claims against individual defendants in the initial Napster litigation; however, she threw out the allegations for failure to properly state a claim, so she never actually got to the merits of the claims. Regardless, it is clear to me that this case is not about actually recovering damages for copyright infringement. This case is about intimidation and the complaint reads like it to me.