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Breaking News: Napster Wins Reprive
Lawyers acting for Napster have scored a small victory by getting a prior decision which would have forced the site to close by Friday night US-time overturned.

The two judges hearing Napster's appeal against the shut-down order said in a statement "Having raised substantial questions of first impressions going to both the merits and form of the injunction, the emergency motions for stay and to expedite the appeal ar granted."

The RIAA responded angrily to the decision, claiming that allowing the service to keep running would further increase their losses and allow continued "massive copyright infringement."

The Fantasy-World Of The Recording Industry 28 July 2000 Edition
Previous Edition

The US courts just don't get it do they?

A US judge has ordered Napster to shut down its website and stop distributing the software that allows Net users to swap music files -- but what does the court really think this is going to achieve?

Clearly this judge is way out of touch with the realities of the Internet as a technology, community and culture.

There are a host of other distributed file-exchanging software and networks built around them -- with new ones popping up almost every day. And let's not forget usenet -- one of the oldest and most established parts of the Internet.

This morning I checked to see what commercial titles were currently available on the news-spool of my usenet provider. Here's just a small list of what I found had been uploaded just today:

  • The Road To El Dorado CD (Elton John)
  • Lifehouse Chronicles CD (Pete Townshend)
  • Sweet Kisses (Jessica Simpson)
  • Songs from Ally McBeal (various)
  • In Blue CD (The Coors)
  • Parachutes CD (Coldplay)

There were also a large number of individual tracks and requests for new material which will probably be uploaded in the next few days.

Let's face it -- there's no simple way to filter or block usenet material and groups such as alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.2000s will continue to provide a constantly updated library of commercial music which anyone can download and play.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again today -- it's time the music industry wised-up to the fact that their existing business model is past its "use-by" date. Yes, they may score a few short-term victories such as having Napster shut down but they've already lost the war -- the music is free.

It's about time the recording industry sat down and worked out exactly how they can modify their model to accept their role in the "wired world."

I can categorically state that neither court orders nor strong encryption will do anything significant to protect music (and eventually video) from being freely distributed by those who choose to do so.

Now it's time for the recording industry to stop gouging their customers and do some real work for a change. I can think of several new models that would allow a good, strong profit to be made while taking into account the effect of the Net and the free distribution of music -- and they don't rely on prosecuting, suing or trying to control the distribution of their product.

Perhaps they ought to take a lesson from the martial arts where it's proven that it's not strength that wins fights but the ability to move with the blows and turn your opponent's energy to your own advantage.

More Intellectual Property Wars
While compiling today's headlines I couldn't help but notice just how many domain-name spats are taking place. Reuters, Microsoft, Sting, the Olympic Committee are just a few of those battling cybersquatters.

So what's going to happen when the proposed new top level domains (TLDs) are launched later this year?

Will Reuters demand automatic rights to their name used in conjunction with all those other TLDs? Will McDonalds do the same? Won't just about every online business automatically take action against someone who registers their site name under another TLD?

If Greenpeace wanted to register Amazon.news to build a site reporting on environmental happenings in the rainforest, would Amazon.com object and sue for the name to be handed over because it infringed their trademark?

While the release of these new TLDs is being touted as the creation of much-needed extra namespace. However, I fear it's not going to be quite as simple as that in a very large percentage of cases where established dot-com sites don't want to risk weakening their own branding by allowing others to use their name under a new TLD.

Now's the time to go to university and get that law degree I suspect!

Marketing Your Website
Sorry... I'm out of space today, this series will continue Monday.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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