Colleges defy Napster ban demand

We don't monitor or ban Net access, US universities say

US universities have told Metallica lawyer Howard King to take a hike - they will not block the use of Napster on their networks as he has requested.

Their reason? Banning Napster would amount to a limitation on access to the Internet, and that's a more important consideration than potential copyright infringement.

"As an educational institution providing its community of users with Internet access, we do not monitor or bar access to use of the Internet," the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's head of IT, James D Bruce, told King in a letter cited by Reuters.

Stanford University and the University of California expressed similar sentiments in response to King's call for a fresh Napster ban.

King's demand came a couple of weeks back when he contacted universities to point out that Metallica's suit against Napster still had room for colleges' names to be included in the list of defendants. King's letters didn't explicitly say that colleges would be so listed if they didn't take up an anti-Napster stance but the threat was clear enough.

Still, most universities were sufficiently cautious to point out that their refusal to ban Napster usage wasn't a statement of support for the controversial MP3 sharing software.

"This is not a statement of support for Napster, nor are we condoning copyright infringement,'' a spokesman for Georgia Tech told Reuters. "To unilaterally block access to a site is an overly blunt response to this issue and we believe that it constitutes an unwise policy."

And many colleges have banned Napster anyway, largely because the increased network traffic it has generated has brought university LANs grinding to a halt.

And the small number of educational institutions named in the original Metallica suit, including Yale and the University of Indiana, quickly acted to ban Napster in order to avoid legal action as much as because of their desire to prevent copyright infringement. After the ban, the colleges' names were removed from the lawsuit. ®

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