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Napster takes the wrap

Napster takes the wrap - PCSTATS
Abstract: Judge Marilyn Hall Patel has issued an injunction to freeze Napster's operations as of Saturday, July 29, at 3am EDT.
Filed under: MP3 Players Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: none Jul 27 2000   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > MP3 Players > none

Napster takes the wrap

The controversy that's been brewing over MP3s for the past year is finally reaching its climax. Following the December lawsuit brought against Napster by the Recording Industry Association of America, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel has issued an injunction to freeze Napster's operations as of Saturday, July 29, at 3am EDT. Meanwhile, Napster plans to submit a stay of the injunction before it goes into effect, on Thursday, July 27.

Napster CEO Hank Barry's statement posted on napster.com outlines their position: "We will appeal the judge's ruling to the Court of Appeals and will ask the Court of Appeals on Thursday morning to stay the judge's order during the appeal. If we do not get a stay, then we have until midnight Friday to comply with the judge's order. Although we strongly and firmly disagree with the judge's decision, we will comply with that decision if it is not stayed."

Given the strong language Judge Patel used against the company during the hearing, Napster's move to appeal seems a bit optimistic. Its competitors are already chomping at the bit, thrilled that the biggest music-pirating operation on the net will become extinct -- temporarily, at least -- in a matter of days. Sites like Audiofind are posting triumphant messages of "BYE BYE NAPSTER!!" on their pages to celebrate the great day when 20 million Napster-users will flock to their sites for their daily download fix.

Gnutella, one of Napster's biggest competitors, is already feeling a surge of new users on its site. Offering a neat alternative to the dying Nap, Gnutella is less of a company than a concept. Its technology offers free music downloads between "peers," while the company's back-end is little more than bunch of servers. Its corporate structure (or lack thereof) makes Gnutella difficult to litigate and a charm to run.

This, of course, is the irony of the court injunction. It won't change the fact that the internet hocks free music, infringes on copyright laws, and gets musicians' backs up. It will only reroute traffic to other sites. The concept of peer-to-peer networks is too viable to abandon. All the lawsuit will do, eventually, is establish guidelines governing the sharing of copyrighted material on the web -- which is only fair. It may mean you'll have to pay for your download of the Bjork cover of that Metallica song written by that Jerry Leiber guy, but sometimes the best things in life aren't free.

And anyway, there's lots of time between now and Saturday to download a whole PC-full of Napster tunes. If you're planning to get on-line and loaded-up before then, be prepared to sit and stare at your screen for many seconds at a time. Napster.com is experiencing unprecedented traffic in advance of the court injunction, and you'll have to be patient if you plan to nab some last Napster hits. If, on the other hand, you're an advertiser, then what in the web are you waiting for? A banner ad posted on napster.com between now and Saturday will rake in more millions than a Michael Jackson concert-tour of Japan, in the 80s, in the rainy season, with Liz Taylor in tow. Happy looting, music-lovers!


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