Harvard Stays Clear of Napster Battle

Fair Harvard?

Meanwhile, because Harvard hasn't received any legal notification of copyright infringement from artists, University Attorney Allan A. Ryan Jr. says that the university has not considered whether to restrict access to Napster.

Were Harvard to receive such legal notification, Ryan says it is unclear whether the University would take action.


"I don't think there's an obligation to prevent our users from accessing protected material over the Internet," Ryan says.

Weld Professor of Law Charles R. Nesson, however, writes in an e-mail message that universities can be held accountable for such copyright infringements, and the courts cannot give much leeway.

"Judges, in the end, have little choice but to go along with the interests of property," he writes.

According to Professor of Law William W. Fisher III, Harvard is not liable for contributory copyright violations. He adds that the University is most likely not liable for vicarious copyright infringement because it does not financially profit from the violations.

Jonathan L. Zittrain, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at HLS, adds that Harvard is not liable because its role is similar to that of an Internet service provider (ISP).

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