Universities block access to popular music site

INDIANA — The heavy metal band Metallica sued a popular MP3-formatmusic retrieval site and several universities in April for copyright infringementin an effort to end online music piracy.

Users of the site, Napster.com, are able to share song files betweencomputers connected to the Internet. When a song is requested, Napstersearches the files of other users. Once the song is located, users candownload it onto their own computers. But the practice has raised copyrightconcerns because the songs traded among users are not monitored.

In the past year, more than 100 colleges around the country have bannedstudent access to Napster.com on their servers because of concerns overthe amount of network space the site takes up and fears of lawsuits likethe one Metallica initiated.

Although network administrators say the large amount of network spaceand time the site requires causes slower connections for everyone, manystudents argue that universities should not be censoring their Internetaccess.

Chad Paulson, a sophomore at Indiana University, created a now-defunctWeb site titled “Students Against University Censorship” after IU bannedaccess to Napster. The site featured a petition for students to sign toprotest the ban and updates on the status of Napster.com on campuses acrossthe country.

Indiana University lifted the ban in March after working with Napster.comto create a plan that allows the program to search for MP3 files requestedby IU students from other computers connected to the university’s serverbefore linking to the entire Internet.

But as a result, Indiana University was named in Metallica’s lawsuitfor encouraging music piracy by allowing students to use Napster. The universitysubsequently banned Napster again, and has been dropped from the suit.

Facing a similar problem with slow connection speed, technology officialsat Yale University originally placed a ban on Napster.com between the hoursof 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Yale was also named in the lawsuit, butafter school officials banned Napster altogether, Metallica dropped thesuit against them. Still named in the suit is the University of SouthernCalifornia.