Napster bans Manic Street Preacher fans

Unreleased Manics songs find their way onto Napster

The controversial online music swapping service Napster has blocked Manic Street Preacher fans from sharing unreleased tracks from the forthcoming album Know Your Enemy.

Sony Music UK, the record label behind the Welsh indie band, contacted the US service warning it that these users were breaching its copyright and threatening legal action.

Napster users accused of copying and swapping Manic Street Preacher songs illegally had their accounts disabled this week and were issued with a warning: "Your Napster account has been blocked pursuant to a Notification of Alleged Infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) filed against you by Sony Music Entertainment UK."

It is reported that Sony plans to launch a breach of copyright suit against these users although nobody at the consumer electronics firm was available for comment at time of posting.

The Manic Street Preachers are not the first musicians to find unreleased material being distributed through Napster. Others include Madonna, Radiohead and the Spice Girls.

Napster has revolutionised the distribution of music by allowing MP3 files to be shared within an enormous Internet community. As a large proportion of this music is often protected by copyright, however, Napster has also been beset by legal troubles. This latest twist comes shortly after Napster announced plans to launch a subscription service in cooperation with German publishing firm Bertelsmann.

There are many compelling reasons for protecting the rights of artists and their distributors online. Andreas Pfeiffer thinks that it is less clear, however, whether content providers busy with digital rights management have given sufficient consideration to possible side effects. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.

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