Napster is winding up its Canadian business and urging customers of its online music service to use up their credits by the middle of December or lose them forever.
The company stopped allowing new Canadian customers to sign up for its service as of November 17, 2011.
"Napster Canada will be shutting down all of its services on December 16, 2011," the company said in a statement on its website Tuesday.
For $9.95 a month, Napster allowed Canadians to stream millions of songs on their computers or portable music devices. For $14.95 a month, users could download the songs for use on their portable music players while offline — but the songs could not play on any Apple devices because of a dispute over digital rights management.
The company has operated legally in Canada for seven years. But Napster first became famous in the mid-1990s as a pioneer in illegal file-sharing. After a lengthy court process, the recording industry managed to bring Napster to its knees about a decade ago. The business subsequently relaunched with a legal business model before being sold to new buyers, most recently to a division of electronics retailer Best Buy in 2008.
It's not known how many active customers Napster currently has in Canada. But they have until December 16th, 2011, to use up any outstanding download credits. The company is urging customers to back up their downloaded files, as they will be unable to offer technical assistance after that date.
The company will continue to operate as usual in the United States. Last month, Napster was taken over by file-sharing rival Rhapsody, which has about one million paying customers. Terms of that transaction were not disclosed.