Web Extra: University Refuses to Ban Napster





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Rebuking the requests of music industry heavyweights, UC officials announced Friday they will not ban Napster from university servers.

"Given the fact that Napster technology may be used for legitimate purposes and that the university does not monitor the use of its electronic systems, we see no justification for a blanket block on access to Napster technology," UC General Counsel James Holst said in a statement.

The move came in response to a request by recording artists Metallica and Dr. Dre that 11 national universities ban Napster access because of potential copyright infringement.

But as of today, only Penn State University had complied with the request. Harvard, Stanford and Princeton Universities, along with the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, decline to limit access to the server.

"Just as a copying machine can be used to reproduce written works illegally, so can Napster be used for illegal purposes," James Dolgonas, UC assistant vice president for information systems and computing, said in a statement. "However, both also serve many valuable and legitimate purposes."

The university, however, said it would investigate reported incidents of copyright violation involving the server.

"The university does not condone unlawful activity, and we take appropriate steps when we are informed of any specific alleged infringing activity," Holst said.

Napster officials Friday were enthused.

"We're very pleased with the university's decision to allow students to continue participating in the Napster community," a server spokesperson said.

The past few days have marked somewhat of an anticlimax in the battle between lawyers for the music industry and college campuses. In the spring, the recording artists named three universities as codefedents in their lawsuit against Napster, and all three took steps to ban the server from their campuses.

But this week's unexpected unanimity from the nation's leading universities deals a sharp blow to Howard King, the lawyer who had so successfully targeted schools just a few short months ago.

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