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Tuesday, 3 April, 2001, 23:59 GMT 00:59 UK
Napster rallies its troops
Shawn Fanning creator of Napster
Napster fans thanked Shawn Fanning
By BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson in Washington

The online song swapping service Napster has not had much to cheer after recent losses in its court battle with the recording industry.

But the embattled online service hoped to rally the troops, its millions of loyal users, as hearings in the US Congress looked at the future of online entertainment.

It's the first contribution from our generation that really changed the world. I think we ought to protect that

Napster fan
Napster urged its users to come to Washington to show their support for the online upstart.

On the eve of the hearings, Napster hosted what it termed a teach-in, fashioned after the 1960s exercise in educational activism.

But it was quite a lot like another 1960s event, the love-in, as Napster fans professed their gratitude to the service's creator, Shawn Fanning.

H.D., a student from Catholic University in Washington, said to Shawn Fanning, "(Napster has) been a great thing for millions of people. It's united people under one common medium. Thanks a lot, dude."

Another member of the audience stepped up to the mic and asked whether or not protest might be necessary to save Napster.
Napster logo
Napster is urging its users to unite behind the embattled group

"It's the first contribution from our generation that really changed the world. I think we ought to protect that," he said.

"I think you've got a huge network of people who would be willing to, for lack of a better word, take it to the streets," he said.

"Would Napster be willing to call our generation to stand up for what we believe in?" he asked.

Napster users unite!

A Napster executive quickly said that protest probably was not necessary, but Shawn Fanning highlighted the Napster Action Network.

When one goes to Napster's website, a window pops up saying: "Napster is under fire! The recording industry won't stop until they've shut down file sharing. We're not going to let them."

To join the Napster Action Network, users are asked to enter their e-mail addresses.

Napster urged its users to come to Washington and to come to the hearings. Users who came out to support the service were given a free pro-Napster T-shirt and a ticket to a concert Tuesday night.

Don't believe the (corporate) hype!

To rally the Napster troops, Public Enemy's Chuck D railed against the titans of the recording industry, a message which Napster partisans received warmly.
Chuck D
Public Enemy's Chuck D took aim at the recording industry in support of Napster

He said that the enthusiasm has shifted from the major recording labels to sites like Napster, which he said breaks the control that major media companies have exerted over artists and consumers.

With the advent of Napster, "no longer will you be saddled with 10 Britney Spears cuts when you want only one," he said.

He said the music listeners do not want to be a victim of big corporate politics, and he said the politics really kicked as the industry shifted from vinyl records and cassettes to compact discs.

"They were able to take something that they were making for a third of the price and charge three times as much," he said.

He added, "it's almost foolish that the big companies are begging government to save their ass."

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Napster boss calls for net licence
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