As Napster and the Recording Industry Association of America prepare to square off in a San Francisco courtroom on October 2, lawyers for Metallica and Dr. Dre plan to step up their efforts to persuade colleges and universities to block access to the MP3 file-swapping service.
Howard E. King, a lawyer for both Metallica and Dr. Dre, mailed out letters to some 27 schools earlier this month, asking them to "promptly ban access by [their] community to Napster" and to inform him of their respective stances on the issue by September 22 (see "Metallica, Dr. Dre Ask Colleges To Curb Napster Access").
King informed MTV News that while most of the schools, including the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology and the University Of California, responded to his original letter, none agreed to voluntarily ban access to Napster at this time.
Some of the schools, including Harvard University, requested additional time to investigate
the matter and formulate a policy with regard to student use of Napster.
King said that he now plans to send follow-up letters to the same universities in the next couple of weeks to specifically outline some of the legal obligations Metallica and Dre feel the schools have, as well as enumerate the types of copyright infringement his clients claim are being encouraged by Napster.
King said he didn't expect to sue the schools to pressure them to block student access to Napster, a move that seemed to work when lawsuits filed by Dre and Metallica listed several colleges, including Yale University and the University Of Southern California, as co-defendants (see "USC Restricts Napster In Wake Of Metallica Suit").
"We're really going to try and persuade the institutions to [block access to Napster] by appealing to their sense of logic and ethics rather than threatening lawsuits," King told MTV News. "From what I've gathered,
the three previous schools were already going to drop Napster anyway, but the suits just sped their decision process up."
In the meantime, Metallica and Dr. Dre are currently fending off attempts by Napster to enjoin their lawsuits with the one filed by the RIAA. Legal reps for Napster, Metallica, and Dr. Dre were in New York last week to file procedural briefs before the Judicial Panel For Multi-District Litigation.
The panel is expected to decide in the next few weeks whether to combine all of the pending suits against Napster into one set to be reviewed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Metallica and Dr. Dre's suit against Napster is currently scheduled to go to trial in federal District Court in Los Angeles in October 2001, and King said that while both artists support the RIAA suit, they would prefer their legal actions to be kept separate.
For complete digital music coverage, check out the Digital Music Reports.