Oasis Fan Websites Under Scrutiny

May 12 [16:00 EST] -- Epic Records, the American home of Brit-rockers Oasis, has no comment on a recent electronic mass mailing from the band's official website that gives fan-built sites 30 days to dispense with all unauthorized Oasis material or face legal action. The move, which could be a music industry first, looks to curtail the flow of unauthorized Oasis material that includes sound files, lyrics, video files, and photos.

Jack Martin, a University of Kansas freshman who maintains an unofficial site, told MTV News that he and some 140 other Oasis sites received a letter from the Official Oasis Home Page. The letter, allegedly sent at the request of Epic parent Sony Music, says "Sony Music is working to reduce the amount of unauthorized on-line material for their artists."

It later notes, "Distribution of Oasis sound and video files, photographs, and lyrics without permission is unlawful. Webmasters are in danger of legal action if copyrighted material is not removed

from their sites. Internet Service Providers housing illegal material will be asked to terminate accounts or face action themselves." The e-mail gives web publishers until June 2 to comply.

In response to the electronic missive, Martin and other fan site producers have formed the Oasis Webmasters For Internet Freedom, an ad-hoc group hoping to continue their free use of copyrighted material.

The webmasters argue that fan sites actually help record labels by providing round-the-clock advertising for bands. However, the chances of winning that argument look thin; even the cyber-rights activist group the Electronic Frontier Foundation told the fan sites that they are indeed in violation of Sony's copyrights.

Martin, who is facing these concerns during finals week, feels that if Sony enforces its copyrights on the Internet, it would set a dangerous precedent for fans sites. "It would diminish the quality of the Internet as a whole," Martin told MTV News.