Napster Tastes Its Own Medicine
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[SOUTH AFRICA] Napster, the service synonymous with copyright infringement and intellectual property rights abuse, has filed its own trademark infringement suit. The culprit? Napsterstore.com. The crime? Selling Napster-branded clothing without Napster's approval.
The irony is biting. Napster's song-swapping service -which allows users to trade songs directly, cutting out both the record companies and the artists that actually produced the music- caused the world's 5 biggest record companies, in the form of the RIAA, to launch a massive copyright infringement lawsuit.
Even though Napster cut a deal with media giant Bertlesmann, 1 of the 5 plaintiffs, with whom it is developing a fee-based music trading system, that suit still has to be resolved. But the experience has obviously taught the music company a thing or 2, as their suit targeting Napsterstore.com shows.
Napsterstore.com - a site owned and operated by Sport Service Inc. - offers T-Shirts and caps bearing the Napster logo and sprouting convention-threatening statements like "Download this!" and "Banned by some of the finest Universities in America," playing on the anti-establishment sentiments of Napster users.
Serves Napster right, you could say. But at least Napster didn't claim to be the record labels' official site; Napsterstore.com boldly claims to be "the only online source for OFFICIAL Napster apparel." Nor did Napster claim to be supporting the record industry, merely our right to trade music; Napsterstore.com tells us they "Support the Revolution!" and asks us to "Tell the world you support Napster!"
Then again, Napsterstore.com's violation of copyright is exactly what Napster is accused of - and something many Napster users support, in the name of intellectual freedom. Napsterstore.com might actually gain more customers by marketing its abuse of the Napster copyright than claiming to be aligned with that company. And until Napster develops a system that respects copyright and compensates artists (and record companies, alas), they're left tossing bricks about inside their glass house.