Band sabotages Napster with covert capers

Napster users confronted with concealed advertising in a strange new twist to the controversy

Quirky Canadian musicians the Barenaked Ladies have launched a devious plan to foil Napster users hoping to snare the first songs from the band's new album, Maroon.

The Ladies are renowned for their kooky lyrics and irreverent sense of fun but see Napster as no laughing matter when it comes to ensuring record sales. So the band has flooded Napster with bogus MP3 files disguised as material from the latest album.

In fact the files are nothing more than a cunning piece of advertising.

"Although you thought you were downloading our new single, what you actually were downloading is an advertisement for the new album," says singer Steven Page in one of the rogue MP3's. "We fooled you, huh? We're sneaky like that. You can never trust a Canadian," warns drummer Tyler Stewart in another cheeky clip.

The creators of Napster, an MP3 peer-to-peer application that makes it easy to share digital music, are currently being sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for allegedly promoting mass music piracy.

The Barenaked Ladies' decision to embrace the use of Napster to promote their work is part of a growing trend among artists to take a second look at the controversial technology. The Smashing Pumpkins and Offspring recently defied their record labels to release music directly to the Napster community.

A spokeswoman for the British Phonographic Association believes the move may be an indication of the direction in which Napster is moving. "I'm sure the industry would welcome the opportunity to work with, rather than battle new technologies," she says. "The challenge is to offer people what they want, make it secure and make it as easy to use as Napster."

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