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Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 17:38 GMT
Napster: A musician's view
Napster founder Shawn Fanning
A California court has ruled that Napster, the online music sharing service, must stop trading in copyright material. But what do professional musicians make of the service?

Rob Lord is a musician who has seen the debate over the controversial Napster service from both sides of the fence.

He has used Napster to download his favourite tracks, as well as using the service to market and release his own music.

"It is a great way of getting music to people. If you are in some far flung part of the world or in South Croydon, there is no better way of accessing music."

Napster is a piece of software which allows users to search for MP3 music files stored on the hard drives of potentially millions of users. Music files can be swapped, often for no charge.


The world's largest record companies have successfully argued in court that the service infringes copyright.

It is a great way of getting music to people - if you are in some far flung part of the world, there is no better way of accessing music

Musician Rob Lord
But Mr Lord, who is based in London, said the service had not harmed the recording industry and that the legal action was "too late to change anything".

He said: "Once the box is open it will stay open. Napster is not going to go away.

"Record companies were caught napping by Napster."

He said he had little sympathy for high-profile acts such as Metallica who have led the charge against Napster, seemingly on behalf of all musicians.

"If they had been some kind of left-of-field band, who only release an album with 5,000 pressings, rather than millionaire, chauffeur-driven stars, then I would take their complaints more seriously."

Subscription service

Mr Lord has worked as a musician in TV and advertising as well as providing soundtracks for computer games, such as Discworld and Aladdin.

He has also worked as a session musician and releases albums of experimental and electronic music.

Napster has gone to great lengths in recent months in an attempt to legitimise itself and Mr Lord feels it could soon resurface as a subscription service.

He said: "Most people would be happy to pay a fee to access the service. I would."

If someone had a similar taste in music to me then I would contact them offering them a copy of my new album - for me, it worked in a positive fashion

Rob Lord
As well as downloading songs via Napster, Mr Lord has also used it as an alternative method of distributing his own material.

"If someone had a similar taste in music to me then I would contact them offering them a copy of my new album. For me, it worked in a very positive fashion. It is great for file sharing in a small way."


He believes the recording industry will survive unscathed because people continue to want their own physical copy of an album or single.

"Fans all want to own the CDs, with all the art work and sleeve notes. There is something very satisfying about owning the album, dropping the needle on the record."

"People can copy albums onto tape, mini-disc and with a CD burner but this has not harmed the recording industry."

But he admitted that if he relied on album sales for a living, his attitude to Napster could be different.

"You can play MP3 tracks on your computer and a personal stereo but people will still want to buy and own albums."

See also:

13 Feb 01 | Business
Napster rivals celebrate ruling
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