Recording Artists File Brief Against RIAA
I am not a lawyer ... blah, blah, blah,
but it does nothing to the Napster case. If I understand what I read correctly the artists are laying claim to authorship rights of the works in question. As someone else has pointed out, this means that if they have authorship rights, the recording label can retain the copyrights to a particular instance of a work, but not all instances.
The reason the artists want this in this case is quite simple - it enables an end-run around the RIAA represented record labels. The artists could record versions of their songs specifically for things like Napster or other mediums and potentially cut the labels out of the revenue stream (the label could not claim ownership of that instance of the work). Obviously RIAA would not be very happy with that.
Again, I am not a lawyer and may be missing a few subtle points of the law.
But for the Napster case in particular it does nothing. Even if the artists' brief is upheld and the documents are amended or refiled, the labels still own the copyrights to the instances of the work (music) in question (as agreed to by contract). That means that if their claims of infringement are upheld, they can still show damages as the owner of the copyrights to that particular recording.
A decent play by the RAC. If it is successful, it will change the landscape somewhat, but I fear all it would mean for Napster would be that a different party would be suing them.