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For the week of February 21 through 27, 2001

Set straight

Stealing by any other name is still stealing. Until last week, the name was Napster.

Napster is the Web site that enabled Internet users to download music from other computers. Free music! No CDs! Nirvana!

Ripoff is what music composers and publishers called it.

What Napster did was no different than loaning a friend a CD, attorneys argued. Problem was, the loaner often found millions of new friends who wanted to "share" the music.

The three judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Napster’s music swapping violated music publishers’ copyrights.

The death of Napster riled advocates of a "free" Internet. Yet, if Napster had lived it could have bankrupted music groups, record companies and composers.

Napster was based on the misbegotten idea that people could purloin artistic works at no charge. It’s a widespread misconception that once published, creative works are free to be reproduced and used by anyone for their personal or corporate benefit.

We’re glad the court set everyone straight and came down on the side of starving artists everywhere.

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