Universities Snub Napster Ban Request

In a broad rebuke to attorneys representing the artists Metallica and Dr. Dre, four prominent universities rejected the request to ban Napster access on their campuses yesterday.

The Boston Globe reported yesterday that Harvard is expected to respond similarly next week.

MIT, Stanford University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina all declined to restrict access to the music-sharing service in letters sent to Howard E. King, the attorney representing Dr. Dre and Metallica.

The four universities were the first to respond to the attorney's request for a Napster ban on college campuses.

In similarly argued letters, the universities claimed that as Internet service providers (ISP), their networks acted simply as conduits of information, and they had no legal responsibility for the misuse of their systems.

"Stanford has no involvement in the alleged infringement described in your letter," wrote William F. Abrams, an attorney representing Stanford. "Stanford merely offers its faculty, students and staff connections for digital online communications, online services and network access."

Furthermore, the Universities argued that blocking access to Napster was inconsistent with their commitment to the freedom of information.

"As an educational institution providing its community of users with Internet access, we do not monitor or bar access to use of the Internet. This policy is consistent with MIT's educational mission and our deeply held values of academic freedom," wrote James D. Bruce, MIT's vice-president for information systems.