FBI CALLED IN NAPSTER PROTEST

RIAA alleges Napster supporters made death threats...

Napster is still online after winning a last-minute stay of execution in the Court of Appeal.

An injunction in favour of the Recording Industry Association of America on Wednesday by Judge Marilyn Patel would have meant the site’s closure at midnight on Friday (July 28). But an appeal by the file-sharing software provider on Friday afternoon was successful, and it will continue to operate until the full court hearing in September.

The granting of the initial injunction provoked a massive and unprecedented reaction by Napster users, with the RIAA being bombarded with more than 2,500 emails of protest, and major record labels, who are supporting the Association’s action, being similarly swamped with emails and telephone calls after Napster urged its users to speak out.

The situation was so bad, the RIAA called in the FBI after employees received death threats by email and telephone.

[url=]www.napster.com carried contact details for major labels BMG, EMI, Sony, Time Warner, Universal, RIAA and the Music Publisher’s Association and said: “Write the heads of the major record companies and tell them you are their best customers – loyal and active music fans – and that you don’t want them to kill Napster.”

Supporters were then linked to a contact list providing not only email addresses to high-ranking staff, but physical label addresses and phone numbers. Although Napster did not specifically ask their users to call the companies, according to receptionists at many of the organizations targeted in the campaign, switchboards were flooded all day as they deflected up to 500 calls each frequently from young music fans.

“A lot of children are calling, as young as seven,” one receptionist said. “Some are being a little rude. It’s funny though.”

EMI left a recorded message on its answerphone saying: “We apologise if you are having trouble getting through to the person you are trying to reach. But due to the recent campaign of an organisation which is unhappy with the US judicial process our main switchboard has been flooded to the point that your call cannot be put through. Until we can resolve this technical problem we can only ask for your patience and understanding.”

Teenage Napster founder Shawn Fanning, expressed his relief at the positive outcome of the company’s appeal, saying: “I am happy and grateful that we do not have to turn away our 20 million users and that we can continue to help artists. We’ll keep working and hoping for the best.”

Napster CEO Hank Barry, added: “We’re gratified and appreciative of the 9th Circuit Court’s decision today to allow the Napster community to continue operating while our appeal of the injunction is pending. We want to thank the Napster community for their support during this period.”

Over the weekend, Napster launched a “Buy-cott” coampaign, urging its users – whose numbers have now swelled to 22 million – to buy CDs by artists who have supported the site, who include Limp Bizkit, The Offspring, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, The Grateful Dead and Ben Folds Five. A full list can be found at [url=]www.napster.com.

Fanning said: “We believe that file-sharing among music fans helps to create a larger community of passionate music lovers, which allows the industry to sell even more music to fans. To prove just how much our users love music – and to show the buying power of such a large group of music fans. We are asking that each and every Napster user walk in – or login – to their favourite record store and buy a CD by an artist they love.”