Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Universities Refuse to Block Napster Access

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Universities Refuse to Block Napster Access

Article excerpt


Officials at nearly a dozen universities across the country say they won't block students from using the embattled online music-sharing software Napster, despite a demand from a lawyer for two musicians.

Howard King, attorney for Dr. Dre and Metallica, sent letters to several university officials last month demanding they stop access to Napster on their computer systems, citing copyright infringement (see Black Issues, Oct. 12).

The software allows users to download songs from the Internet for free.

Dr. David Ward, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote a letter to King that was released last month. In it, Ward says limiting Internet access based on content "runs counter to our fundamental and cherished concepts of academic freedom and free speech, which are the linchpins of our mission to teach, research and disseminate information."

Dr. Judith Rodin, president of the University of Pennsylvania, says she has similar reservations about banning Napster from university computers.

But the school plans to hold seminars about copyright law and online ethics for students and employees.

"We find your request troubling because it asks us to impose a blanket ban on access not simply to specific unlawful material, but to a tool that facilitates access to a broad range of materials," Rodin wrote in a separate letter to King.

"Our policies prohibit the use of the university's electronic resources to intentionally infringe on intellectual property rights, and the university investigates and takes appropriate action when allegations of specific infringement are brought to our attention."

The Internet startup is currently embroiled in a lawsuit to shut it down for allegedly violating copyright laws.

The suit is pending before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. …

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