September 22, 2000

C.U. Gives Napster Response Today

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Today, Cornell will release its response to the request by two musical groups to limit student access to the Napster file sharing service on the University server. Lawyers for musicians Metallica and Dr. Dre, who challenged Napster in April, wrote to President Hunter R. Rawlings III and 19 other universities around the nation last week.

In the letter, they set today as a deadline for a response.

A 1etter containing Cornell’s response is currently being reviewed by administrators, who are likely to send it tomorrow, according to University Council James Mingle.

Mingle would not comment on the contents of the University’s response.

“We are examining the issue on its merits,” Mingle said. “I imagine that other universities will be going both ways on the issue … some will move to suspend [Napster access], but then there are others that will not.”

Although Cornell has yet to release its decision regarding Napster use on campus, several other universities have already announced their positions.

Penn State took action a week after receiving the letter. Yesterday, the administration informed their students that the university can suspend computer accounts of anyone who uses websites and programs like Napster that infringe upon copyrighted works through the university network, according to the Penn State Daily Collegian..

Brown University attempted to block Napster access on January 26 due to bandwidth concerns. However, students have still been able to access the site since Wednesday without Brown’s approval, according to the Brown Daily Herald.

Concern over possible legal action against universities has made Napster and MP3 file sharing an issue of debate on campuses. But as students grow more defensive of their right to download music online, universities still remain unsure of their legal position, which will not be clear until the suit against Napster is resolved.

By sending letters, the lawyers have increased the concerns of university administrators.

Metallica and Dr. Dre listed three universities as defendants in a suit against Napster. The lawyers claimed that University of Southern California, Yale University and Indiana University should be held liable for copyright infringement for their “knowing facilitation of the massive copyright infringements occurring through Napster,” according to lawyer Howard King.

These universities all decided to restrict access by their students to Napster shortly after the suit was filed.

Cornell does comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects copyrighted material on the internet. The act provides protection for internet service providers who satisfy certain requirements, such as responding to complaints of infringement, according to Assistant University Council Patricia McClary.

“I believe that Cornell does satisfy the requirements and therefore has that protection,” McClary said.

Archived article by Eve Steele