After Napster Decision, Legal Worries Remain

Harvard yesterday joined a growing group of universities that have declined to block Internet access to Napster, but warned that it will hold students responsible for downloading copyrighted materials.

In a letter mailed yesterday to Howard E. King, the attorney for Metallica and Dr. Dre, Assistant Provost for Information Technology Daniel D. Moriarty wrote that banning access to specific Internet sites based on their content "would be inconsistent with the values of broad inquiry and the exploration of ideas that Harvard...has traditionally sought to protect."

While affirming the University's commitment to unobstructed access to the Internet, Moriarty wrote that Harvard does not "condone or ignore" copyright infringement and encouraged King to report specific cases when Harvard network users infringe on his clients' copyrights.


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 requires that Internet service providers take reasonable steps to put an end to copyright violations when the copyright owners alert them to the violations. Under that act, repeat individual offenders--including university students--can be banned permanently from their network.

According to University Counsel Allen A. Ryan, if Metallica or Dr. Dre decide to report individuals who commit online copyright infringement, student offenders may lose their network access indefinitely.

King, however, said the two bands he represents do not plan to target individuals. Rather, he said the bands have a larger goal to get universities to take a stand against the principle of Napster.

"We believe that universities are responsible once they know they're being used for wholesale copyright infringement," King said.

Still, Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 said yesterday that although students are able to use Napster without restriction, the College does not condone illegal activity--including the download of copyright-protected music.

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