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The Dartmouth
April 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Lawsuit increases Napster worries

Responding to a lawsuit by the heavy metal musical band Metallica, the University of Southern California plans to continue to allow access to Napster -- a popular program that lets users exchange MP3s over the Internet -- as long as users demonstrate that they are using it for legal purposes, the university announced on Friday.

The University's response to Metallica's lawsuit comes days after Yale University and Indiana University, who were also defendants in the lawsuit, decided to block all access to Napster. Both universities were subsequently dropped from the lawsuit.

Dartmouth's Director of Technical Services Punch Taylor said that the College will not ban Napster, but instead will find other ways to decrease its use.

"We are going to educate the community on the issues relating to copyright violations and the consequences," he said.

"We're going to talk directly to the deans and educate them about MP3s and Napster," Dartmouth's Director of User Communications Bill Brawley said. "A lot of MP3 traffic is in violation of College policy. We just want to remind people of that."

He added that major action has not been taken on the issue because MP3s and Napster have not yet been a big problem on campus.

Taylor also noted that proactive measure must be taken to avoid lawsuits against the College. "The Metallica suit named several schools, but it also included some 'John Doe' defendants, which means that [the plaintiff] could add institutions' names at any time," he said.

Yale spokesman Tom Conroy told The Dartmouth that the university "does not condone anyone who violates copyright laws." He added, however, that "the university does not believe that it has any liability in the lawsuit."

He said that Yale had previously blocked access to Napster during business hours.

Napster use has previously been a problem for schools across the country because of the large percentage of the institution's Internet access it consumes.