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A think tank called the Progressive Policy Institute is now pushing its own Internet "compromise," saying copyright laws should be changed so companies like Napster will have to collect personal information about its users. That way, judges can grant injunctions against Internet pirates more easily.
THE HILL IS ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Musicians, Execs, Ordinary Geeks Take Online File Swapping, Work For Hire Issues To Washington
The Napster-MP3 debate finally hit Capitol Hill Wednesday (5/24), as musicians, industry executives and Internet geeks made their cases both for and against music-swapping services on the Internet.

It's a debate that has sparked at least four high-profile lawsuits, and has transcended from an "industry problem" to one that music fans are extremely passionate about.

Yesterday's arguments before the House Small Business Committee were no different: Pro-industry forces say Napster and its ilk will take profits away from artists and adversely affect the industry as a whole, while pro-Interneters like rap artist Chuck D say Napster will simply keep record labels in check.

Chuck D, never short on words, has been a proponent of digital distribution over the Internet for years now, having inked a deal with Atomicpop.com and launching his own site, Rapstation.com.

But, perhaps timed to the hearings, a new report outlining the effect of music downloading on the industry was released Wednesday (hitsdailydouble.com, 5/24). According to the report, the first of its kind, downloads and file swapping have indeed hurt the industry's business. According to the study, released today by digital rights firm Reciprocal Inc., music sales dropped considerably at stores near college campuses—where Napster is most popular. Music sales were up 12% during the first three months of 2000, but they've dropped 4% at stores located within five miles of college campuses. Those retailers usually account for half of all albums bought.

Tom Silverman, founder of Tommy Boy Records, told the Hill that Napster's popularity shows a "culture of infringement," in which "perfectly reasonable people who would never walk into a Tower Records and steal a compact disc because they believe it to be wrong are doing the same thing on the Internet when they seek out and download illegal copies of music."

Both sides on Wednesday, however, seem to agree that new anti-piracy laws are not needed… at least not now.

A think tank called the Progressive Policy Institute is now pushing its own Internet "compromise," saying copyright laws should be changed so companies like Napster will have to collect personal information about its users. That way, judges can grant injunctions against Internet pirates more easily.

"We're still seeing what the courts are doing with the current laws," Representative James Talent (R-MO) told the Associated Press. "What I wanted to with this hearing is law the groundwork for whatever action we may think is appropriate."

In related news, singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow will testify in Congress today on behalf of many other music business stars seeking to repeal an amendment to a controversial copyright law that they say could keep them from earning millions of dollars.

Crow, expected to be armed with letters from musicians such as Billy Joel and Jimmy Buffett, will testify in front of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property in opposition to the change made last year that designated all sound recordings as "works for hire."

The Recording Industry Association of America, the trade organization that represents the major labels, initiated the change.

Crow and other artists object to the way the change was made last year without hearing or testimony. hilary rosen',390,400);">hilary rosen',390,400);">Hilary Rosen, head of the RIAA and Michael Greene, the Recording Academy chief, among others, are also expected to testify.

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