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Friday, 18 August, 2000, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Hacking for Napster
hacked website
Part of the message left on the defaced websites
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

Pro-Napster hackers have been defacing websites in an attempt to drum up support for the pop-swapping service.

Up to 60 websites are believed to have been defaced in a two-week spree to protest about the treatment Napster has received at the hands of the music business.

On Friday Napster returns to court for the resolution of its copyright battle with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The FBI is now investigating the attacks.

A malicious hacker going by the name of "pimpshiz" is thought to be behind most of the attacks which have been made on a diverse selection of websites.

Sites attacked ranged from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France to Models Network International. All the sites have now been restored.

On all the hacked sites a message boosting Napster and attacking Metallica, which is also suing the music swapping service, replaced the usual homepage. The message was titled "The Save Napster Hack Attack"

Hacked sites
Nike Taiwan
Thai Students Online
The Norway Post
Bank Internasional Indonesia
The Martin Short Show
Inside Edition
Honda UK
800 Shoes
Mitsubishi Electric Automation
Models Network International
Bibliotheque Nationale de France

In the message Pimpshiz wrote: "I am doing this to get what I think is the right thing ... out to more people. Maybe others who don't even use Napster (such as myself) will even realise what is going wrong here."

The sites were picked because they had failed to close a loophole in Microsoft's Windows NT operating system they were running on the server hosting the pages.

"Pimpshiz" supplied an e-mail address at the end of the message and invited webmasters of the hacked sites to get in touch so they can learn how he did it.

It is still unclear whether one or more hackers are responsible for the attacks.

Although Napster is facing legal challenges from the RIAA and Metallica the service has proved hugely popular.

It claims to have over 20 million users who use it to swap MP3 copies of music tracks. The RIAA and Metallica are suing it for copyright violations.

Even if the RIAA wins its court case it is unlikely to stop the wave of MP3 file sharing taking place on the internet.

The success of Napster has prompted the appearance of many copycat services that let people swap files but make it harder for them to be shut down.

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