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Napster buys out

Napster buys out - PCSTATS
Abstract: There's an element of comic hopefulness in Napster's latest response to the injunction that will close it down as of Saturday, July 29, at 3am EDT.
Filed under: MP3 Players Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: none Jul 28 2000   S. Dennis  
Home > Reviews > MP3 Players > none

Napster buys out: some words on the Nap's latest bid to stay up

There's an element of comic hopefulness in Napster's latest response to the injunction that will close it down as of Saturday, July 29, at 3am EDT. On Wednesday, Judge Patel in San Francisco ordered Napster to freeze its operations by Saturday morning. On Thursday, Napster filed an appeal against the freeze. The shutdown would effectively put Napster out of business, force it to lay-off its 40-odd employees, and cause it to lose its enviable audience (over 20 million users worldwide).

While the plaintiffs in this case have put up $5 million to buffer Napster's losses during the shutdown, much more than $5 million is at stake. Napster's competitors have been experiencing record-topping traffic numbers since the court's ruling on Wednesday; and the majority of these competitors are structured in such a way as to elude litigation. No matter how the court rules in the final trial, Napster will have lost a substantial portion of music-download-addicts in the interim.

So how is Napster responding to the pressure on this 11th-hour day? How is it bracing for the worst, what signals is it sending through the ethernet cords of the web-world?

It has posted a message on its front page, urging its supporters to participate in a "buy-cott" this weekend to assure the recording industry that Napster users are serious consumers who put their money where their mouse is. It is asking that Napsters everywhere purchase CDs by any of the 22 musicians who aren't intent on frying the company. In a touching attempt to foster goodwill, instructions to users include an injunction to "Be sure to let the record store know you came from Napster."

Now, last time I checked, clerks at HMV had little or no influence on producers in the recording industry. Telling one of them that you're simultaneously a loyal Napster fan AND one who shells out for actual CDs might impress them, might make them think, "Hey, there goes a classy guy," -- but it's unlikely to make a big dent in the lawsuit that's threatening to annihilate napster.com.

However, such romper-room optimism on the part of a multi-million dollar corporation is certainly inspiring. From now on, we should all seek to resolve our conflicts and our commercial grievances this way. If you want to fight the power that is Starbucks, go buy a coffee from the franchise and announce to the worker-bee behind the counter that you prefer their competitors, but this cup of java is your way of supporting the free-market economy. If you want to express your disgust with sweatshops, go and buy a Made-in-China turtleneck and declare to the checkout drone that you're actually solidifying your allegiance to democracy by investing in a business that democracy exploits.

You might not change the world, but you'll definitely spark some debates and hold up a few checkout lines and make enemies of those who just want to purchase their merchandise in peace. The call for Napster users to unite and buy CDs this weekend won't change anything for the company; but it'll sure annoy those who get buttonholed during an innocent trip to the record store.


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