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D.C. think tank offers proposals on Napster

PPI calls for user ID, verifiable info

HOLLYWOOD — In an effort to address the copyright infringement issues associated with Napster and other Internet file-sharing services, the Washington, D.C.-based Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) — a think tank for the centrist Democratic Leadership Council — will present a set of proposed changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act at a House Small Business Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Napster is battling copyright infringement lawsuits from the Recording Industry Assn. of America (RIAA), which represents all the major record companies, as well as recording artists Metallica and Dr. Dre.

The PPI is proposing that all Internet service providers — which a judge has already ruled Napster isn’t — be given a specific deadline to remove from their service those users who are infringing upon copyrighted material. The current law only calls for this to be done “expeditiously.”

The institute also suggests that Napster and its ilk be made to collect from their users identifiable and verifiable information, such as addresses and credit card information. In Napster’s current brouhaha with Metallica and Dr. Dre, alleged copyright infringing users were identified only by their screen names, which they were free to change and possibly continue using the service.

“I’m pleased because this proposal clearly represents the issues that are relevant to my clients’ cases,” Metallica and Dr. Dre’s attorney, Howard King, told Daily Variety. “By putting the artists’ faces to these issues, we hoped to elevate the public debate and bring attention to the concept of intellectual property.”

More names

King also noted that on Thursday Metallica handed Napster a second list containing the screen names of 332,293 users who had allegedly illegally traded the hard rock group’s copyright recordings. Metallica submitted a similar list of more than 335,000 users on May 3; rapper Dr. Dre followed suit by naming 239,000-plus users on May 17.

While Metallica originally asked Napster to remove these users from the service, Dr. Dre sought only to block Napster users from accessing his copyrighted material, which was identified by its MD5 signature. Metallica’s second list contained a similar request.

Napster’s PR firm did not return calls for comment.

A recent Webnoize poll of Napster-using college students found that nearly 60% would be willing to pay $15 a month to use the service.

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