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Metallica's lawyer, Howard King, who has filed anti-Napster actions on behalf of the band and others, including rapper Dr. Dre, is spamming US universities, seeking their co-operation in blocking use of the MP3 sharing software on their networks.

According to US journal the Chronicle of Higher Education, King has been mailing colleges demanding they ban Napster. He isn't directly threatening them with legal action, but there's certainly the implication that lawsuits may be filed against them if they don't comply with King's wishes.

Specifically, he included a copy of the original Metallica anti-Napster suit, which named a handful of US universities as alleged aiders and abettors of copyright infringement and contains room for further educational establishments to be added to the suit.

After the suit was filed, in April, the named colleges, including Yale and Indiana University, agreed to block the use of Napster on their networks. No college accepted Metallica's allegations, but since the did indeed ban Napster, clearly they all felt discretion to be the better part of valour.

King told CNet that he hoped the other colleges he had mailed more recently would take the same pragmatic approach.

"There is no express threat in the letters that they're going to get sued," he said. "We're pretty comfortable that even without the threat of litigation that the universities will reach the same conclusion that Yale and the University of Southern California have."

They probably will. A survey of 50 US colleges recently undertaken by the Gartner Group, a market researcher, found that 34 per cent of them had already blocked Napster, either for legal reasons or because of its clogging effect on their LANs. ®

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