ad info  technology > computing
    Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  




Consumer group: Online privacy protections fall short

Guide to a wired Super Bowl

Debate opens on making e-commerce law consistent



More than 11,000 killed in India quake

Mideast negotiators want to continue talks after Israeli elections


4:30pm ET, 4/16










CNN Websites
Networks image

Napster users create legal gray area for employers


July 17, 2000
Web posted at: 8:42 a.m. EDT (1242 GMT)

(IDG) -- Alan Rhea, the information systems director at U.S. Diamond Wheel, doesn't want his end users installing Napster software on their computers. Its file-sharing technology poses a security risk, and personal use of work computers violates company policy.

But otherwise, Rhea loves Napster.

From his home PC, Rhea uses Napster to listen to new artists and hard-to-find music, such as a digital recording of the first 45-rpm record he ever bought, "Tell Her No" by the Zombies.

"I think Napster is one of the best promotion tools that ever came out of the Internet for music, and it's a shame that you've got some people driving Lamborghinis saying that it's going to make them paupers," said Rhea, whose Oswego, Ill.-based company makes abrasive products.

  Computerworld's home page
  The Napster privacy trap
  Napster leaps to its own defense
  Steal this song
  Reviews & in-depth info at
  Questions about computers? Let's editors help you
  Subscribe to's free daily newsletter for IT leaders
  Search in 12 languages
  News Radio
  * Fusion audio primers
  * Computerworld Minute

San Mateo, Calif.-based Napster Inc. may soon be shut down if Federal District Court Judge Marilyn Patel in San Francisco agrees to a preliminary injunction sought by the recording industry. A hearing is scheduled July 26. Napster argues that its users are simply legally "sharing" music for personal use. But the Recording Industry Association of America, which is representing the major record labels in court, says Napster is helping users violate copyright law.

This battle has created a legal gray area for Napster users and potentially for their employers as well. If employees are using computers at work to download copyrighted digital recordings, employers could be dragged into a lawsuit, say several intellectual property attorneys.

But even if the record labels could legally justify suing end users, the record companies "would be hard-pressed to hold an employer liable," said Jeffrey Lewis, an attorney at Gordon & Glickson PC in Chicago. Regardless, it's important for companies to have rules and policies in place on equipment use, he said.

But legal experts don't believe the recording industry will start alienating its customers.

"The music industry would be insane to sue individuals... that doesn't mean they might not be insane," said attorney James Burger at Dow, Lohnes & Albertson in Washington.

Congress has begun investigating the copyright and competition issues raised by Napster and businesses such as MP3.Com Inc. in San Diego.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, rock band Metallica's co-founder, Lars Ulrich, derided Napster for violating copyright, while Roger McGuinn, formerly of The Byrds folk rock group, praised and Internet downloads generally for exposing new people to his music.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) warned recording industry representatives to be wary of "competition concerns" if they are reluctant to license their music to the new digital companies.

But Gene Hoffman Jr., founder, CEO and president of Inc., which sells digital music online, said it has seen its stock value plunge because of Napster.

"The reason my stock has declined is [investors] are afraid that Napster will validate the concept of not paying for music," said Hoffman at the hearing. Over the past year, the company's stock has declined from more than $20 per share to just under $2.

Napster CEO, Metallica drummer to testify on digital music
July 11, 2000
TIME Asia | Asia Buzz: Free Spirit | Napster is going where no man has gone before
July 11, 2000
Steal this song
July 7, 2000
In the copyright crossfire
July 5, 2000
Napster takes the defensive
June 27, 2000
Artists, industry executives debate music on the Internet
May 25, 2000

The Napster privacy trap
Recording industry blasts Napster
(PC World Online)
Napster steals Universal exec
(The Industry Standard)
Napster leaps to its own defense
(The Industry Standard)
Music industry looking for fair way to share tunes
Napster hears call beyond music
(PC World Online)
A world of MP3 players
(PC World Online)
Steal this song

Napster Inc.

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.