Judge Beezer of 9th Circuit Dead at 83

     (CN) - Longtime 9th Circuit Judge Robert R. Beezer died from lung cancer at age 83, the federal appeals court announced Monday.
     President Ronald Reagan nominated Beezer to the 9th Circuit in 1984. After assuming senior status in 1996, Beezer continued to hear cases for several more years though his eyesight was failing.
     "Judge Beezer had a long and distinguished career," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said in a statement. "He was devoted to the law and placed great emphasis on courtesy and civility in its practice. He will be missed."
     Among a host of notable rulings, Beezer wrote the majority opinion in the Anna Nicole Smith case in 2010 and in A & M Records v. Napster in 2001.
     The 9th Circuit characterized the latter as "a trailblazing decision in the then-incipient field of peer-to-peer digital media sharing."
     "The opinion held that Napster and other file sharing services, by facilitating the exchange of audio files and other digital media, could be held liable as contributory and vicarious infringers of the copyrights on the materials being shared," according to the court.
     "The opinion was one of the first to address whether file sharing constituted fair use and set the tone for much of the law that followed."
     He died at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle on Friday.
     Before rising to the federal bench, Beezer was in private practice with Schweppe, Doolittle, Krug, Tausend & Beezer.
     The lifelong Seattle native served two years of active service with the U.S. Marine Corps and another 20 years in the reserves.
     A private funeral service is planned Wednesday with burial to follow in the Tahoma National Cemetery near Seattle.