Rage: Sorry about the Napster ban

After inadvertently helping to ban Napster users suspected of swapping unauthorised songs, Rage Against The Machine has something for fans

Rock band Rage Against The Machine is offering an olive branch to fans angry about being booted from Napster last week, posting a long list of otherwise unavailable songs and videos to its Web site.

Many fans of the band found themselves barred from Napster last week after the band's management and record label gave the song-swapping service a list of people suspected of trading unauthorised songs.

The band, which is known for its outspoken criticism of corporate values, said it had not been consulted about the action. After bitter fans began complaining about the ban on the band's Web site, guitarist Tom Morello posted a public apology and said he had asked the label to reverse the action.

In a message posted on the Rage Against The Machine Web site late Thursday, Morello expanded on that apology.

"While we were not aware of this plan to deprive our fans of our music, once we were made aware of the situation, we started taking steps to correct it," Morello said. "We want to apologise to our fans, and it is important to us to make it right."

The band posted 15 song files and eight videos (all previously unreleased and many of them live recordings) to the site as evidence of its sincerity.

Rage Against The Machine was just the latest in a string of bands whose fans found themselves barred from the popular Napster song-trading service after trading copyrighted tracks. The band shares management company QPrime with Metallica and Dr Dre, the first two major artists to target trading of their songs on Napster.

Morello's band, however, is the first to publicly oppose a ban already in place and call for its immediate removal. The high-profile spat highlights the lack of industry unanimity on the best way to approach the growing number of record buyers who regularly use Napster or other file-trading services.

A copyright suit filed by Metallica and Dr Dre against Napster is still pending in federal court, as is a larger suit against the company by the Big Five record labels: Bertelsmann's BMG Entertainment, Vivendi Universal's Universal Music Group, EMI Recorded Music, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Group.

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