Napster predicts its own shutdown

By the

February 15, 2001

On Monday, a federal appeals court ruled that users of Napster, the online song-exchange network, were infringing on the copyrights of recording industries. The decision allowed a lower-court judge to permanently shut down Napster, however the company has been granted a brief reprieve from the judge’s injunction.

Napster was being sued for infringement of copyright law by the Recording Industry Association of America. Although this organization has increased its sales since the birth of Napster in 1999, its members are convinced that Napster users have cut into their profits, since no one receives royalties when a song is copied using Napster software.

The appeals court said that Napster had to stop allowing its users to share and download recordings that copyright holders did not want to be shared. This decision will take effect as soon as these copyright holders can provide a list of songs. The decision also hinges on the assumption that Napster can find the technological means to abide by this rule.

Napster is still running at present, however Napster spokesmen warned that the software could be shut down in the near future.

“I can see from a legal perspective why they did it, but I think it’s unfortunate because I use Napster to do so much and so do my friends,” said Ory Abramowicz (SFS ‘02), Napster user. “I’ve heard of two other services similar to Napster, so if the courts rule to shut down Napster, I think people will turn to those,” he added.

Napster was blocked last year from the Georgetown network because the University Information Services were concerned that the transfer of MP3 files would slow the speed of the network, as well as being concerned over the infringement of copyright laws and the possibility of damage to students’ personal computers. The ban was lifted by University administrators in February of last year, however, in response to student complaints. (

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