By Richard Menta- 3/30/01
Napster's plan to hold an instructional forum April 2nd before their rally in DC the following morning was dealt a setback today. The teach-in was to be held at the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University, but University officials canceled those plans citing that rules that required a balanced discussion for the event were not followed.
"There will be no Napster-related event on our campus," said Victor Nakas, the school's director of public affairs. "Napster indicated its unwillingness to participate in a balanced presentation. Thus, no event was ever scheduled or agreed to by the university. Any representation to the contrary is false."
The University claims there is a long-standing policy that whenever a controversial subject is presented, both sides of that issue are to be represented. Since the forum appears to be more of a lobby primer to prepare marchers for the following days rally, one has to wonder what elements Napster planned to include to satisfy that requirement.
That said, Wired magazine, through an unnamed source close to the controversy, suggests that this is not the real reason for losing the site. The real reason Napster was booted was pressure on the university from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) itself. The RIAA is the music industry's lobby that is extremely well connected in the nation's capital, as are members of Catholic University's administration. Some of these people run in the same circles and University administrators, not looking for trouble, simply backed down from the conflict.
The teach-in was hurriedly moved to the Ampitheater in the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. The new site is already posted on Napster's Web site with directions.
As we have in the past, we must point out that with its acquisition by Bertelsmann AG, Napster is owned by the same record industry that is trying to close it. Soon to be a pay-for-play subscription service, Napstery is now a part of the traditional music industry and we need to remember that as the company continues to paint a picture of itself as David going against the mighty Goliath. Even if the company survives its court challenges, once its subscription service begins the real Napster will be neutered and the Napster spirit will move on to the likes of Freenet, Gnutella, and the new MusicTicker.com.
In related news, Napster announced on its site that rapper Chuck D. has signed on to speak with Shawn Fanning at the April 2nd forum. Though he is not expected to speak before congress this time, he has decided to join the pro-Napster rally.
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