UK adds voice to Napster Linux row

Napster could be used to distribute open source software, says British Linux kernel programmer Alan Cox, adding his voice to the current dispute over the technology
Written by Will Knight, Contributor

It follows a row between Napster users and the Linux community in the US as to whether users of the service are merely following the ethos of open source. Such suggestions have been vigorously denied by creator of the Linux operating system Linus Torvalds who told the Wall Street Journal that Napster should not be used to distribute pirated music.

Other open source experts including Eric Raymond and Larry Wall also endorse this position.

In the UK, Linux experts are also quick to condemn using Napster to access pirated music but Cox believes there could be another use for the controversial system. "I encourage people to use Napster to distribute open source applications," he says, "But using Napster for piracy is wrong. Open Source is not about ignoring copyright. In fact, we use copyright law to protect the freedom of our code."

Cox is not impressed by the way Napster is being targeted by the music industry. "Those attacking Napster are trying to set a very dangerous precedent. Instead of attacking pirates they are attacking the technology. Imagine if it had been five years earlier, they would have been trying to shut down the Internet."

Napster has become something of an albatross around the neck of the music industry because it allows pirated MP3 music files to be passed around the Internet with extraordinary speed and is fast gaining massive popularity.

In response the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and heavy metal band Metallica are currently fighting a legal battle to have Napster outlawed.

Digital delivery has taken off in a massive way. We will download most things -- software, books, magazines... it's getting people to pay for it that is the tough part. Go with Todd Spangler to read the news comment at AnchorDesk UK.

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