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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Saturday, April 28 2001

Writer's motto: When in doubt, quote

April is winding down and Monday is the last day for me on my current job, so it seems fitting to stick with the ongoing topic of music in our lives for these three remaining days of the month.

For today, a few tidbits about Napster. Son Kevin tells me the name, incidentally, is derived from the founder's nickname, which is Napster, based on his "nappy" hair. If this is true (and Kev wouldn't lie to me), it's the second major business enterprise I've known of based on its founder's hair, leading to a nickname. Kinko's (the worldwide copy/office services company) is the first. (I knew the original Kinko, by the way, back in our respective salad days next to UC Santa Barbara, but that's a tangent. Yes, he had kinky hair. Blond or light brown, '70s permed style.)

Yesterday's report was all based on my observations turned into speculations about what was happening at Napster. Today the service's home page confirms the whole scenario:

Napster is continuing to comply with the District Court’s injunction and to prevent the record companies from shutting down file sharing. In the process of doing so, we have implemented a range of filters designed to remove from the Napster service all copyrighted works for which we have received notice. We have recently enhanced those filters in an effort to screen out the wide range of variations in artist name and song title that result in noticed works continuing to appear on the Napster index. That, in turn, has unfortunately caused substantial additional "overblocking,” the unintentional removal of otherwise authorized works, for which we apologize to our users and artists. We will continue to refine our filters in an effort to avoid overblocking to the extent possible.

While many of the variations in artist and title names are the natural result of individuals naming their own files, some of the variations are deliberate attempts to evade the filters and share material over the Napster service that would otherwise be blocked. Napster’s terms of service prohibit the use of evasive measures such as pig latin, napcameback, napsterdecoder and otherwise deliberately altering file names in order to evade Napster's filters. Users found to be employing such evasive techniques will receive a warning and those who continue to share such files will be blocked from using the Napster service. This determination is based on an examination of the file names the user is making available to the Napster index.

Thank you for your continuing support. Napster is making significant strides in the development of our new service. Look for future announcements in this space.

The sentence that I put in maroon speaks to my statement yesterday that even using the keyword "Christmas" on Napster brought a "no files found" response. That had been corrected by the time of this writing, putting weight on the claim the sentence makes. (Christmas music is again available using the keyword. Also, Friday's number of files available was more than double that on Thursday, nearly 200,000 compared with 78,000...the count changes during any day, of course.)

Never one to take the safe position, my defense of Napster would likely be controversial if anyone noticed it. I follow two watchwords in such cases: 1. "Don't trust the establishment or its media." 2. "The media are probably wrong or, if trying not to be wrong, they're probably getting it wrong." I speak from experience (said with a grin).

However, my supportive stance has some impressive (if minority) support from some in the music industry who according to the "generally accepted wisdom" stand to lose money if Napster prevails. I'll close today's postcard with a few quotes from the Napster website.

"The Edge is very pro-Napster, actually," Bono says. "He thinks that as long as people are using their computers for music, and not playing mindless games, that's good. My feeling," he adds, "is that it's cool for people to share our music—as long as no one is making money from the process. We tell people who come to our concerts that they can tape the shows if they want. I think it's cool that people are so passionate about our music—especially about this new album, quite honestly." —Bono (U2) on The Edge

[Napster] is a good way to promote your music, but copyright and things of that sort are something that will have to be worked out and they will be worked out. I remember when they didn't want you to have a VCR, but they worked it out and I think for the best. Smart people always get together and work it out. —B.B. King

What record companies don't really understand is that Napster is just one illustration of the growing frustration over how much the record companies control what music people get 2 hear over the air waves, record labels and record stores, which r now all part of this "system" that recording companies have pretty much succeeded in establishing, r becoming increasingly dominated by musical "products" 2 the detriment of real music. Y should the record company have such control over how he, the music lover, wants 2 xperience the music?... From the point of view of the real music lover, what's currently going on can only b viewed as an xciting new development in the history of music. And, 4tunately 4 him, there does not seem 2 b anything the old record companies can do about preventing this evolution from happening. —Prince

Stealing our copyright provisions in the dead of night when no one is looking is piracy. It's not piracy when kids swap music over the Internet using Napster. There were one billion downloads last year, but music sales are way up, so how is Napster hurting the music industry? It's not. The only people who are scared of Napster are the people who have filler on their albums and are scared that if people hear more than one single they're not going to buy the album. —Courtney Love

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Self-restraint

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor thy Father and thy mother," she asked, "is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat, one little boy (the oldest of a family) answered, "Thou shall not kill."

Sent by Virginia in Millville

Staying ahead of the curve

Think outside the box. Your imagination is a preview of coming attractions. —Albert Einstein

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