How to respond to the Napster injunction

You can send money to artists, boycott the RIAA, switch to Gnutella -- or even sue Napster yourself.

By Katharine Mieszkowski
July 28, 2000 10:40PM (UTC)
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What were Napster fans doing the day after Judge Marilyn Hall Patel's injunction against their beloved file-swapping technology? OK, what were they doing besides racing to download as many songs as they can before the Friday midnight deadline, when the service will likely be at least temporarily shut down?

For one, they were tuning into the streaming statements made by Napster founder Shawn Fanning and Napster CEO Hank Barry, talking about how they plan to fight the injunction. And they were checking in to see RIAA CEO Hilary Rosen's maddeningly triumphant statement on the court's action.


They were also flocking to the Napster alternatives like FreeNet and Gnutella, judging from how slowly both sites were running Thursday morning. Perhaps a few were even contemplating other "alternatives" like, God forbid, downloading an ad with every song on services like PlayJ?

The guilty of heart might have been sending a few alms to remunerate their favorite artists for all those songs they've downloaded. One site providing this service of sending cash directly to artists, Fairitunes, says that it hasn't yet figured out how to confirm that your money has in fact gone to the artist of your choice, but implores you to "trust" them. The less trusting in the universe were pondering secure, voluntary payment schemes.

In these dark times, a little thoughtful satire could also give solace: FreeNet creator Ian Clarke (or an impersonator?) asks: How is file-sharing like asking for a light in a bar? Camp Chaos' Napster Bad! cartoon is always a favorite, with its screeching parodies of Metallica, but when will it be updated with a little Judge Patel satire? We're waiting. Perhaps Spinal Tap, with the timely release of its own "ultimate file-sharing service," Tapster, will have the last laugh. The saucy press release announcing this "new service" declares: "Timed to co-opt media attention on the high profile ruling on music-sharing Web site Napster, England's loudest heavy metal band Spinal Tap has announced the launch of its new music sharing service Tapster."


Other Napster fans are taking action, not just songs. Some apparently think that letters to Congress will help the cause. Other sites are promoting a more bottom line-directed offensive, calling for a boycott of the RIAA from August 1 through August 31. They've even gone so far as to create a "blacklist" and a "whitelist" of foes and friends in this war of the online music worlds. But those calling for a boycott obviously haven't quite coordinated their efforts. Another site with the appealing "dieriaa" in its URL, calls for a boycott to begin Sept. 20 and remain in effect until the organizers' demands are met.

And if Napster is indeed taken offline Friday night, the now-inactive site will go live with a rally and petition to sign.

Finally, there was even a place for fans of the RIAA, or those who feel left out of the Napster brouhaha. Yep, there's an online form that can help you, too, to sue Napster.

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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