Friday, Sept. 22, 2000
Mary Spletter (510) 987-9004


The University of California will not move to block students' campus access to Napster, the legally disputed and controversial Internet file-sharing service.

Howard E. King, the attorney for rock band Metallica and rap artist Dr. Dre, had  asked 11 universities -- including the UC campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles -- to respond by Sept. 22 as to whether they would block the use of Napster on their campuses.

"Given the fact that Napster technology may be used for legitimate purposes and that the university does not monitor the use of its electronic systems, we see no justification for a blanket block on access to Napster technology," UC General Counsel James E. Holst said in a reply to King's request.

"Just as a copying machine can be used to reproduce written works illegally, so can Napster be used for illegal purposes," said James Dolgonas, UC assistant vice president for information systems and computing. "However, both also serve many valuable and legitimate purposes."

Holst's letter added: "The University of California provides online services to its faculty, staff and students to enable them to take advantage of the many resources available through the Internet as they fulfill their educational and research endeavors and perform their duties.

"The Internet has become a basic tool in the academic setting and in the workplace. As a service provider, the university does not generally monitor the specific ways in which its systems are used."

Although UC declined to block Napster access on campus, Holst's letter said that the university takes copyright infringement seriously. "The university does not condone unlawful activity, and we take appropriate steps when we are informed of any specific alleged infringing activity," Holst said.

As required by the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act, each campus has designated an agent to receive complaints about alleged copyright infringement.

The letter from UC asks that the attorney report any known instances involving his clients' music on a university system to the "designated agent” for the appropriate campus “who will address your concerns promptly."

Other campuses that received a similar inquiry from King, the musicians' attorney, are Boston, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and Stanford universities, the Georgia and Massachusetts Institutes of Technology, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Virginia.

The letter from King claims that students across the country are involved in "rampant copyright infringements encouraged and implemented by Internet site Napster."

His letter asserted that: "Napster enables the transfer of musical works between users, without the consent of or payment to the lawful copyright owners. It is now estimated that more than 20 million users regularly commit copyright infringements through Napster by downloading or uploading copyrighted material, without consent of owners."

A court hearing is expected in early October to determine whether Napster should be allowed to continue its services. In July, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ordered Napster to stop users from trading copyrighted songs, but the Ninth Circuit appellate court has issued a stay of the decision pending the October hearing.

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