ATLANTA, Oct. 1 (AP) - As Napster's battle for survival resumes in afederal court, colleges and universities nationwide are issuing verdictsof their own on whether students will have access to the Internetmusic-swapping service. On many campuses, Napster has already won. ``We are an educational institution and we will err on the side ofunfettered access to information,'' said Bob Harty, a spokesman for theGeorgia Institute of Technology, which last week denied a lawyer'srequest on behalf of two music acts to block access to Napster. ``Once you start down that road ... well, we could tie up an awful lotof staff people and resources trying to evaluate Web sites' content, andwe don't want to get into that,'' he said. Other schools - among them Michigan, Stanford, Princeton and Duke -responded in like manner to the request from Howard King, a Los Angeleslawyer who represents Metallica and Dr. Dre. ``I think the overwhelming majority of universities are reacting thesame way we have. Most are not blocking Napster,'' said Mike Smith,assistant chancellor for legal affairs at the University of Californiain Berkeley. Metallica, Dr. Dre and the Recording Industry Association of America(RIAA) have sued Napster, claiming its file-sharing software allowspeople to steal music. Three universities - Yale, Indiana and SouthernCalifornia - also were sued but later dropped after they agreed to blockaccess to Napster. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in San Francisco granted apreliminary injunction against Napster in July, ruling that Napsterencouraged widespread copyright infringement.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed her order hours before itwas to take effect. On Monday, that court is to hear arguments onwhether to continue the stay pending a trial - thus allowing Napster tolive on. Napster contends that the millions of Americans who use its service -the San Mateo, Calif., company says 28 million people have downloadedthe software - are violating no law. It bases its defense on the AudioHome Recording Act of 1992, which it says grants immunity when music isshared for noncommercial use. Higher education is involved because students have been among Napster'smost ardent patrons and defenders. Georgia Tech students say they're pleased with their school's decision. ``Why should Georgia Tech be a filter?'' asked Darren, an aerospaceengineering major from New York City, who wouldn't give his surname forfear he would be named in a copyright infringement complaint. Two of the nation's largest universities - Texas and Ohio State - blockNapster access but only because they are concerned about theircampus-wide networks getting clogged with swapped music. ``Twenty percent of the total university bandwidth was going towardsomething that we were pretty sure was Napster use,'' said Tom Edgar,associate vice president for academic computing. But he acknowledgesthat numerous Napster-like services can supply the same files, soblocking Napster won't stop online music-swapping. At some universities, officials are taking enforcement one step further.Oklahoma State campus police confiscated a student's computer last monthover allegations by the RIAA that it was used to distribute copyrightmaterial.
Penn State officials are questioning students and facultywhose computers show heavy file-transfer traffic. Other schools have blocked Napster on the grounds that it is a tool forbreaking the law. Among them is Northeastern University in Boston, whereformer student Shawn Fanning wrote Napster's technical underpinnings inhis dorm room two years ago. Canisius College, a private liberal arts college in Buffalo, N.Y., hasblocked Napster on ethical grounds. ``It's not free for you to steal books from the public library, and it'snot free to download music you haven't paid for,'' said Jerry Neuner,Canisius' associate vice president for academic affairs and president ofthe American Association of University Administrators. Copyright 2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material maynot be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.