Reinhold Grether on 28 Jul 2000 09:19:12 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Court Ruling Is Call to Arms

Have a look on boycott riaa
and on the following New York Times Report. R.G.
--------------------------fwd from nyt--------------------
Amy Harmon
For Many Online Music Fans Court Ruling Is Call to Arms
New York Times, July 28, 2000

It was around 8 p.m. on Wednesday when Joe Frost heard
that a federal judge had issued an order that effectively shut
down Napster. By 11 p.m., he had linked his computer to
one of several underground networks that allow users to do
the same thing as the popular Internet music-swapping
service does, only without providing a central target. 

Like many of Napster's millions of users, Mr. Frost, a 23-year-old
systems administrator in San Francisco, did not see the court's
ruling as a victory for copyright law or a defeat for a particular
company. He saw it as a call to arms. "I wanted to get more
involved in keeping free music distribution alive," Mr. Frost said. 

The decision by Chief Judge Marilyn Patel of the United States
District Court in San Francisco to issue a preliminary injunction
prohibiting Napster from offering access to songs whose
copyrights are owned by the major record labels is being
viewed as a serious blow to those who had hoped to build
a business around the trading of copyrighted music over the

But the cultural phenomenon of widespread copying of music
shows no signs of abating, as Internet users swarmed to
other services that are not designed to make money. 

And since many of the alternatives are decentralized and
noncommercial, they are likely to be much harder for the
recording industry to attack. 

Napster, a San Mateo, Calif., company that hopes to
profit through advertising, sponsored promotions and
sales of CD's and other music-related items, asked the
court yesterday for an emergency stay of the injunction. 

But no matter the case's ultimate outcome, Hugh Trout, 15,
of Washington, who has copied hundreds of songs using
Napster over the last year, said he was spending yesterday
learning how to use Gnutella, a free program that connects
people who want to trade music files by linking hundreds of
thousands of individual computers together, rather than
operating with a single central Web site like Napster. 

"It looks just as good as Napster," said Mr. Trout, who
downloaded the program before the main Gnutella Web
site was overloaded late yesterday afternoon, leaving visitors
with the message that its servers had to be taken offline
temporarily "due to the unprecedented traffic volume following
the Napster decision." 

Downloads of Freenet, a program that allows users to
share video and text files as well as music, had quadrupled
from a daily average of about 1,000 by noon yesterday,
said Tim Perdue, the administrator of source, the
site that posts it. 

Like Gnutella, Freenet uses a model that has come to be
known as "peer to peer" computing, allowing users to
download free software once and directly gain access to
files on each others' computers, unlike Napster which requires
users to log onto its servers each time they want to trade
music. Both are being developed under the so-called
open-source model, in which programmers around the world
donate their services and software code free. 

Ian Clarke, Freenet's primary creator, said the Napster
injunction could have no impact on him or his program.
"I've got no direct control over how people use it," Mr. Clarke
said yesterday from London. "If someone put a gun to my
head and said, 'Shut this down,' I would be unable to do so." 

Gene Kan, one of the chief developers of Gnutella, said:
"Gnutella's not a company. It's a movement." 

Still, the reason the commercial Napster has been so much
more popular than services like Freenet is because it was much
easier for average computer users to navigate. 

"One of the most important parts of the judge's comments
yesterday is the message it sends to the venture capitalist and
business community about commercializing these services," said
Hilary Rosen, chief counsel for the Recording Industry Association
of America. The trade group, which represents the record
labels suing Napster, contends that the service contributes to
piracy by making it easy to download protected music free.
"It's when they get commercial to a large degree that they get
more user-friendly." 

Users and developers say the surge in interest yesterday in
such programs, despite their lack of easy use, underscores
the degree to which people around the world resist the idea
that intellectual property, like a digital music file, should be
valued in the same way as physical property, like a compact disc. 

"A lot of people just want free music," Mr. Clarke said, "But
there is a philosophy that justifies that kind of instinct.
Copyright is predicated on assumption that information is
property. I would contest that assumption." 

The Napster users were saying last rites in the service's chat
rooms yesterday while downloading as many songs as they
could before midnight tonight, when the court order is due to
start. They evinced a range of philosophies regarding copyright. 

"I've got 2600 files!!! Download them while you can," urged
one user in Napster's alternative music forum. 

Mike Longenecker, 33, a medical sonographer in Lake
Havasu City, Ariz., said he only used Napster to find songs
he could not get in a record store. To that end, he went to
his computer yesterday morning and started typing in his
favorite artists to look for rare remixes that might no longer
be available to him after the service was shut down. One
he said he was pleased to find: a medley including AC/DC's
"You Shook Me All Night Long." 

"It's not something you can buy around here," Mr. Longenecker

Matt Roth, 27, of Washington, took a less delicate approach. 

"Instead of searching by song title, I'm looking for bands," he
said. "The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones. Then I
choose a bunch of them to download. With a cable modem, it's
taking me about three minutes per song." 

But if the record industry hopes that shutting down Napster
will result in more CD sales, Sam Chodur, 14, of Lake Hauto,
Pa., said they could not count on any from him, at least not
right away. 

He is supporting one of several groups calling for a boycott on
buying CD's. 

Mr. Chodur and several friends are setting up a server on the
OpenNap network, another chain of computers that connects
would-be music-traders. 

"I chose to do this because I thought it was unfair what they
did to Napster," wrote Mr. Chodur, who will be in the ninth
grade this fall. "It lets me sample the songs from a CD and I
get to see if I want to buy the CD or not. I don't find it to be any
damaging to any musicians. I actually think it is helping them."
--------------------------fwd from nyt----------------------

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