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Recording Industry Calls on Federal Appeals Court to Shut Down Napster

Aired October 2, 2000 - 1:29 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story is today's Napster hearing. The recording industry wants a federal appeals court to shut down the Napster Internet music-sharing service. A decision today is unlikely, but both Napster and the recording companies say they are fighting for survival. Napster helps computer users download music for free. It is especially popular among college students.

CNN technology correspondent Rick Lockridge recently visited one college town to see how the dispute is playing out there.


RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You might expect Gordon Lamb to despise Napster, after all he sells the music millions of Napster users are swapping for free, but business at this college town record store is good. Worldwide music CD sales are up half a billion dollars this year overall and Lamb thinks Napster should get some of the credit.

GORDON LAMB, WUXTRY RECORDS: If anything, I think it has been a positive, people have discovered things on Napster and then come in and special ordered them, or bought them outright right off the shelves.

LOCKRIDGE: But even devoted Napster supporters like Wes Cursen (ph) and George Sawealia (ph) are a little uncomfortable when you ask them about the ethics of downloading other people's music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess it is stealing really, I think it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, well, I don't think it is stealing, is there a law on how many people you can share with?

LOCKRIDGE: Not yet, but that is the key question in the Napster case.

For the five students who share this apartment near the University of Georgia, Napster isn't just a once in a while pursuit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed until I turn off my computer it stays on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're not familiar with Napster you can either search by the artists or the song title or both.

LOCKRIDGE: With Napster now in jeopardy, the guys say they have been downloading music faster than ever, including some tunes by the ferociously anti-Napster band Metallica. But they want Metallica to know something, freeloading has turn them into fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will be more willing to go to see them in concert because I know more of their songs now.

KEVIN KELLEY, UNIV. OF GEORGIA STUDENT: I would like to think that I would participate in giving them some type of payment, but sitting here day in and day out, I don't know how many students or people would actually contribute to that fund for them.


LOCKRIDGE: And there is student Jeremy Elrod from the University of Georgia putting the nap into Napster.

ALLEN: How did it get its name? I don't even know.

LOCKRIDGE: Well, the inventor, Shawn Fanning, who wrote the code I guess when he was 18, his nickname was the Napster, because he was a nappy-headed kid.

So now you were just telling me that your nickname is the Napster. There is potential for a lot of confusion there, isn't there?

ALLEN: There is.

LOCKRIDGE: Every time somebody saying Napster today, you are probably turning around.

ALLEN: It is confusing, but anyway I am still objective on the story of course. You in your techno-garb. Must be nice to be able to dress down.

LOCKRIDGE: You can't Napster in a suit.

ALLEN: All right. You fit the story. The thing about Shawn and what he came up with, a lot of people do this, he just made it very easy.

LOCKRIDGE: It is very easy. In fact, we'll go through it right now. I have done a search since I know you are a big fan for Burt Bacharach songs and I found them here, we can take a look at this screen. And let's just look at the highlighted one down here a little bit down the screen. It has already search and found 100 Burt Bacharach tunes.

Now, I could have specified which one. I would have gotten just those, but I got a whole variety of them.

So we are looking -- let's move over to the right here, follow my cursor on, and you can see that the file size is about 3.8 megabytes, and this is the bit rate. This is very high quality bit rate, meaning you would not be able to distinguish the sound of this from a CD quality song, once you downloaded it, and listened to it on a good stereo. Has the frequency that standard. This is how long the song is.

Here is the person you would be getting it from: "chickboss." You got to wonder who that is. And they have a T1 line. So that means they have a very fast connection. So we will double-click on this, and we will see if maybe we can get that song from chickboss.

You see on the top of the screen there, we have a progress bar where I have already been downloading another song from Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello, it was in that "Austin Powers" movie I think. And you can see here that it is only at 37 percent, I have been downloading it for a while. I still have 13 minutes, 12 minutes left, and that is because we are on a 56K modem.

And the reason we are doing that, and we are not on a high-speed Internet connection like we have here at CNN is because, just as in 40 percent colleges now, they have put up firewalls to keep us from using Napster here in this building.

Now I don't think it has so much to do with the fact that Time Warner is a member of the RIAA, which is suing Napster, as it does with the fact that our tech people would not like to see us clogging up all the Internet bandwidth in the building by downloading music for our personal use.

ALLEN: I was just reading today, a lot of colleges are says: We are not going to adhere to any firewalls. We are going to let the kids do what they want to do.

LOCKRIDGE: Well, of course, the issue has yet to be decide, and I was just reading through some of the arguments posed by the Napster folks, and they have some decent arguments. However, if you are going by what the federal judge initially said in her ruling, she was very critical of what Napster does. I think it is pretty hard to tell at this point what is going to happen. But you know, it could go down the tubes, but if it does, there are other services that are there that will help you get music from somebody else.

ALLEN: And we were also talking about that there may be some middle ground that there two now enemies can find from all of this, like there is the subscription being proposed.

LOCKRIDGE: People have been talking about, maybe you pay a monthly subscription for using Napster and then you just download whatever you want to, and then that money goes into a pool that goes to the recording industry, and the figure was tossed about of maybe $500 million a year in revenue, extra revenue for the recording industry. But they said no to that. And you get the feeling that they want to set the terms for this, and not let the Napster folks, and their teenage creator, set the terms for their gigantic $40 billion a year industry.

ALLEN: Yes, he is now 19 years old. He is a really old guy. All right, thank you so much Rick Lockridge. And when you get that Burt Bacharach song, come back and play it for us.

LOCKRIDGE: We will play it, sure.

ALLEN: Sure would appreciate that.



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