Rock band launches site urging Napster sabotage

An Oakland rock band launches 'stopnapster.com' and calls for users to release songs into Napster that have anti-piracy speeches inserted randomly into the music.

An Oakland rock band launches 'stopnapster.com' and calls for users to release songs into Napster that have anti-piracy speeches inserted randomly into the music.

By Anna Wilde Mathews, WSJ Interactive Edition

26 June 2000 - The war against Napster is going guerrilla.

An Oakland, Calif., rock band has started a Web site, www.stopnapster.com, that urges people to sabotage the controversial service by mislabeling songs posted to the music-sharing service. The band, the Tabloids, also calls for releasing songs into Napster that have anti-piracy speeches inserted randomly into the music

The main force arrayed against Napster Inc. , which allows users to download songs for free, has been the major record labels. They are suing the San Mateo, Calif., company in federal court, in an effort to shut it down. To fight back, the Web firm has hired high-powered lawyer David Boies, who worked with the government on the Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) antitrust case. A group called "Artists Against Piracy," backed partly by the major labels, is also planning to launch a series of television and print ads about the issue.

But the stopnapster site says that it's not affiliated with the major recording firms, and instead represents lesser-known artists and small labels. The address is registered to the name of the Tabloids' lead singer, Michael Robinson.

"Just think of the reaction you'll get from users who think they're downloading the new Beastie Boys track but instead get four minutes of dogs barking, sirens going off, etc.," the site says. The site also calls for songs that would include snippets of messages. "You may be one minute into Eminem's new release when suddenly Charleton [sic] Heston begins reading a public-interest message opposing song theft," the site says.

Tracy Robinson, owner of the band's tiny label and Robinson's wife, admits she doesn't expect their tactics to disable the service, and points out that they won't harm Napster users' computers. "It's not lethal," she says. But "people want to be able to take some action."

A spokeswoman for Napster declined to comment.

Of course, the site is also a way to draw free publicity -- Robinson is a media consultant as well as a band leader, his wife says. The anti-Napster site includes a link to the Tabloids' own Web site, where some of the band's songs are available for downloading. The Tabloids, in fact, are so little known that none of the group's songs has yet even made it onto Napster.

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