Napster on Friday successfully achieved a stay of the injunction set against it last week. The injunction has been stayed pending an appeal on August 18. In reaction to the threatened closure of Napster, rival MP3 download sites, such as Gnutella, have been inundated with traffic.

Gnutella had to shut down for an hour as a result of the traffic last Thursday. But, according to the company, it was able to get the site back up in around one hour.

On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered Napster to shut down its file-sharing of copyrighted material while a lawsuit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is pending. The ruling sparked an exodus of Web traffic to other file-sharing sites, such as Gnutella, ScourFreenet, Napigator, and others.

Napster says it has over 20 million users who are going to alternative sites. Gnutella and Freenet are services that allow de-centralized, one-to-one file sharing, eliminating Napster-style, server-based trading.

Users of these services contend, in postings on the various sites, that the lack of a central server will make it more difficult for a shutdown similar to Napster to occur. The record industry has not tried to sue these sites yet.

With users abandoning Napster for other services, the Scour Web site reported an 80 per cent increase in traffic on Thursday.

Legal trouble Scour, however, is facing its own legal battles as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the RIAA and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) are alleging the company is allowing copyright infringement to occur.

Peer-to-peer Web site CuteMX stopped giving public access to its file-sharing technology on Thursday, pending a review of the developments surrounding the Napster litigation.

"We believe this is the proper thing to do given the confusion over this technology," said Sandra Poole, president of GlobalScape, which owns the site.