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Napster Banned at Colleges and Universities

Napster, the beleaguered online music provider, has reportedly taken another hit on the chin -- this time by the academia community.

Napster has been banned on campus servers at 34 percent of the nation's colleges and universities, according to a report released by technology research firm, Gartner Group. The report, entitled "Colleges and Universities Prepare for Napster's Sophomore Year," includes a list of colleges and universities where Napster is banned.

According to the Gartner Group, with Napster's bid to stay in business still alive in the Ninth Circuit Court at least into September, it means that college students across the United States will have a chance to use school networks, and Internet access, to download and exchange more MP3 music files.

"The reality is that the computer networks that have been set up at universities were built for academic services, not for music downloading," noted Robert Labatt, principal analyst for Gartner's e-Business Services group

"However, I would not want to be the university president who neglected to update the school policy regarding music downloads this year," he added. "Although the courts had not resolved the Napster issue prior to the beginning of school, banning the online music service could prevent legal battles down the road. No doubt that the music companies or the Recording Industry Association of America would be more likely to take legal action against the school, not the students.

"Long legal battles can be costly, and one school could easily be singled out to set legal precedent this year," he said.

According to Gartner, the Napster report outlines current practices and policies regarding copyright issues and Internet access. Administrators therefore are quickly making the ban/no ban decision and preparing to implement their school policies covering legal issues concerning copyright, censorship, network capacity concerns and moral issues.

Yale University began blocking Napster last April, according to Tom Conroy, deputy director of public affairs. "We noticed that the service was being used by students to the extent that it was congesting our network," he said.

However, he added that the decision could be reversed. "We are waiting to see what happens down the road," he said.

Meanwhile, Napster continues to be allowed at a number of schools, including, Iowa State University.

"We have made students aware of the potential legal problems that exist with Napster, but we have not banned the service on campus," stated John McCarroll, director of Iowa State University relations. "In fact, we emphasize technology and urge students to take advantage of the computers we have available to them."

In a prepared statement, Napster responded to the report with a "glass half full" philosophy.

"We are pleased that two-thirds of the schools polled in the survey will allow their students to participate in the Napster community," said Hank Barry, chief executive officer of Napster.

"On the bandwidth front, Napster is working in a variety of ways to manage bandwidth issues at college campuses. Our Bandwidth Management Resource Guide, which has been in place since June, is designed to help guide IT professionals to product-based solutions for various network architectures."



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