Editorial: Access denied by Cabrini

By The Editorial Board
October 26, 2000

Cabrini students can go and download information from any pornographic or questionable site, but are unable to access a web site still entirely legal and most often informative.

Napster.com is a site devoted to music-file sharing. In addition to the file sharing, there are polls and congressional links that support Napster.com’s argument on why they are within legal limitations. The college has blocked access to the site, therefore making its own judgment and legal ruling against Napster.com by disallowing the other side of the argument to be heard from the source. Napster.com promotes an opportunity for unsigned artists to circulate work that would otherwise go unheard. Napster.com in no way has control of what types of music files are shared between users. In essence, it’s the same as lending someone a CD or tape.

So the question that remains is why has the college banned access to a site enforcing a policy that has no legs? In late August the courts found Napster.com guilty of copyright infringement laws and had the site temporarily shut down. Napster.com appealed and had the site up and running three days later, all within legal reason. Cabrini is not the only college enforcing the policy of banning the site. Upwards of 30 percent of schools nationwide have issued this ban on Napster.com. One argument states that colleges do not want to be in support of something that they feel is illegal on their campuses.

What colleges do not get is that it does not stop with Napster.com. File sharing sites such as Gnutella.com are spreading like wildfire on Napster.com’s heels. Many computers already come with a parental lock feature that allows parents to control what sites their children can access. What’s next, college locks? Napster.com’s fate is still up in the air. They are expected to be back in court within the next month for another one of possibly several more hearings. Until a ruling is reached Napster.com should be fair game to anyone with access. Colleges do wield power, but the government swings a heavier hammer, and perhaps that’s who the colleges should be listening to and not to what they think makes them look more upstanding.

The Editorial Board

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