Court presses pause button on Napster
A US court has pressed the pause button on Napster, the spectacularly successful music exchange service on the Net. Napster says it will do everything to keep the music industry's hands away from the stop button.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles ruled against Napster on February 13 and asked it to stop exchange of copyright material. Napster has 50 million members who swap song files for free. An outraged music industry has been trying to put the brakes on this music juggernaut, and the latest court ruling is the biggest blow it has dealt to Napster yet.
Napster was set rolling by Shawn Fanning, a college dropout, with a simple-to-use program that allows computer users around the globe to connect to each other and share music files in the mp3 format. About 1.5 million users are logged on to the service at any given time. Webnoize, a website that monitors the digital music industry, said a mind-boggling 250 million songs were downloaded through Napster last weekend.
Thousands of Indian songs are exchanged every day. Besides Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu film numbers, raga renderings by classical music stars like Ustad Amir Khan, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj and Kishori Amonkar are also swapped on Napster.
The Indian music scene was similar two decades ago, when cheap cassettes flooded the market, bringing to listeners music they till then bought on more expensive gramophone records. The recording industry was up in arms against the cassette pirates. The difference between then and now is that the pirate was making money, while Napster's service is free and no user makes any money at any point.
Many feel Napster is the music distribution service of the future, making it easy for computer users to get songs of their choice instantly, and without having to buy entire albums on tape or CD. Recording labels may agree to fix a price for each download, and sell music through Napster.
The adverse ruling does not mean that Napster shuts down rightaway. Its site says, "Please keep this is mind: Napster is not shut down, but under this decision it could be. We are very disappointed in this ruling by the three judge panel and will seek appellate review."
says the court ruled on the basis of "what it recognized was an incomplete record before it". It says it will pursue "every avenue in the courts and the (US) Congress to keep Napster operating".
In its response to the ruling, Napster representative Hank Barry said, "We look forward to getting more facts into the record. While we respect the Court's decision, we believe ... that Napster users are not copyright infringers and we will pursue every legal avenue to keep Napster operating".
In recent months, Napster has arrived at a truce with labels like BMG. Napster's site said, "We intend to continue our discussions with the record companies. We have been saying all along that we seek an industry-supported solution that makes payments to artists, songwriters and other rightsholders while preserving the Napster file sharing community experience."
Napster's agreements with two distributors, Edel in Germany and TVT in the US, led to TVT dropping their lawsuit last month.
Napster's defence is that its community is about "love of music". Its members, it says, purchase far more CDs than most people. They share files with no expectation of gain.
Shawn Fanning also went on record saying his company was developing new, "amazing" technologies that Napster would be glad to share with the recording industry.
Meanwhile, the heavy metal group Metallica said it was "delighted" that the court had upheld the artists' right "to protect and control their creative efforts". The group had filed a suit against Napster in April 1999, alleging copyright infringement and racketeering.
Hilary Rosen, president and chief executive officer of the Recording Industry Association of America, was thrilled with the victory.
The RIAA, which represents a host of big music labels, claims Napster could rob them of sales worth billions of dollars.
Napster says its service does not violate any copyright laws, and that it is protected by the Audio Home Recording Act, which allows people to record music for personal use.
The other side takes the line that Napster's service is still illegal because a home computer is not a recording device as defined in the law book.
Discuss the Napster case on the message
Mandolin wiz makes
He's the wizkid who took up
the Western mandolin and played the graces of south Indian
classical music. The child prodigy has grown into a
big star, and is now moving into an area he never been in
Mandolin U Srinivas will compose the music
for a film called Sweatchaa. He had earlier been
asked several times to lend his services to the big screen, but
had always turned down film offers. The industry's persuasion seems
to have worked now.
Srinivas, born on 28 February, 1969,
picked up his father's mandolin and started playing some popular
tunes when he was six. His father's teacher spotted the boy's
talent and started
giving him lessons. Srinivas could play the
complex graces of traditional music, and soon became a sensation on the
concert circuit, drawing crowds of up to
Sweatchaa stars Charuhasan,
who describes the film as "a good commercial entertainer with a
message". The film will have five songs.
Vijayasekhar Reddy, an
alumni of the South Indian Film Institute -- Rajnikant and
Chiranjeevi also studied there -- is the director.
The story is about two
young people who take to crime and are slowly reformed. Charu Hasan
plays a retired judge. Shooting began on January 27 at Ramoji
Film City, Hyderabad.
Visit Srinivas's site
Musicians' mite for Gujarat
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan,
Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and top British names will play on
February 18 to raise funds for Gujarat. The venue is the
Royal Festival Hall.
Amjad Ali Khan will play the sarod with his sons Amaan and
Ayaan. The two young sarod players are also well-known as the anchors of
Saregama, a popular music programme on Zee TV.
Chaurasia will play with his disciple Rupak Kulkarni. The concert
line-up of musicians, and the gate collections will be
donated to earthquake victims in Gujarat.
John McLaughlin, the jazz legend who played the
guitar in the fusion band Shakti, is scheduled to play a session
with Chaurasia. Shakti was a pioneering fusion band that featured tabla wizard
Zakir Hussain, innovative violinist L Shankar and ghatam maestro
Michael Nyman band will open the evening. Praful Dave, Gujarat's
leading folk singer, is also expected to sing.
Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Ustad Alla Rakha had similarly played
in the US in the '70s to raise funds for victims of
the Bangladesh cyclone.
List of quake relief numbers in India
Norwegian electronic composer Jorn Lavoll has just put the
finishing touches on a piece of music he and classical Indian singer
Sandhya Sanjana have collaborated on.
"This is what makes being an Internet artist so exciting," says
Jorn Lavoll, who had previously collaborated via the net with
musicians from Canada, China and the USA. "This must be the most
exciting and rewarding way of creating music," says he.
Sandhya is excited about the world of MP3s. She recently put up
some of her work on MP3.com and was "astounded" at the results. Now
she has started a project involving web collaborations with some
creative minds sitting behind computers.
Listen to the song Sandhya
Visit Jorn Lavoll's home site
Sanjana's home site
Visit Sandhya's mp3
Grants for art projects
The India Foundation for the Arts is looking for projects it
IFA, based in Bangalore, offers grants for a broad
spectrum of arts projects, covering music, dance, theatre, painting,
sculpture, cinema and literature.
Scholars and practising
artists can apply for support "to strengthen or interrogate their
art". Projects can include research leading to a novel, film or
stage production. The project should not take more than two years.
IFA grants up to Rs 5 lakh for each project.
The last date
for receipt of applications is April 30, 2001. IFA announces grant
recepients on or before November 30, 2001.
music-related projects IFA has funded is a study of the evolution
and structure of ragas in the Hindustani tradition. "The resulting
book enables the development of new compositions in different ragas,
and encourages a revaluation of distortions that have crept into
their formation and execution," says the IFA's brochure.
Another project compiles the songs of workers from eastern
India. It studies music emerging from plantations, mines and
factories, and looks at the possibility of treating "this aspect of
folk culture as an independent form".
For more details write
to: The Executive Director, India Foundation for the Arts,
Tharangini, 12th Cross, Rajmahal Vilas Extension, Bangalore 560 080.
Tel/fax: 080 331 0584/ 331 0583.
Foundation for the Arts
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