Harvard's lawyers are preparing a legal analysis of whether to ban Napster from Harvard's network and have contacted computer administrators to discuss the feasibility of such a ban.
The University has not yet responded to the September 7 request by an attorney representing the artists Dr. Dre and Metallica that Harvard block the popular music-sharing service.
If the University denied that request, it would be the first school contacted by recording artists to do so.
Last spring, when Howard E. King, the artists' attorney, added Yale University, Indiana University and the University of Southern California as defendants in their lawsuit against Napster, all three schools promptly blocked access to the service on their networks. They were subsequently dropped from the suit, which alleges that Napster facilitates copyright infringement.
The attorney representing the musicians requested a reply from Harvard by Friday, but University lawyer Allan A. Ryan said the deadline was not set in stone.
Frank M. Steen, the director of Harvard Arts and Sciences Computer Services (HASCS), said he has discussed the prospect of banning Napster with the general counsel's office. If the University decides to block the service, Steen said it could be shut down "very fast"--perhaps within 24 hours.
Steen would not discuss the technical details of blocking access to Napster because of security concerns, but said the University would have to decide how extensive a block to institute.
"We could effectively block Napster," Steen said, "but we might block other legitimate [network] uses as well."
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