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Napster -Bertlesmann reaction: Begin the Spin
Posted by netwebly October 31st 2000

The official reaction today to the news of the Bertelsmann-Napster deal from players in both the digital music community and the recording industry can be described as cautiously optimistic.

Many of those who spoke out, however, expressed doubts about the long term impact the agreement will have. The consensus appears to be that while nearly everybody (with the exception of's Michael Robertson) is relieved that progress has been made towards bridging the gap seperating the recording industry and the rebellious file-sharing movement, few are willing to believe that the news signals an end to the acrimony that has devastated the American entertainment industry for nearly three years.

Underlying the cautious official statements heard around the Net, is the sense that each player retains a vital interest in the final outcome of the Napster story: whatever it may be.

The official RIAA response, contained in a press release posted to the Association's web site: Jeez, that's nice news.

The statement read "...We welcome anyone's decision to become a legitimate player in the online music industry, building a business based on licensed uses of copyrighted works"

The Association, which is pressing the case of the big 5 labels in the case against Napster, left little doubt that it will continue to pursue it's legal action against the company.

"Today's announcement does not bring an end to the court case. There are multiple plaintiffs in addition to BMG; and BMG itself has said that it won't withdraw its complaint against Napster until they actually implement a legitimate business model. And frankly, it is important for everyone, Napster included, that the ground rules of the Internet music business be established once and for all."

RIAA Executive Director Hilary Rosen was less polite in person. "Napster's going to have to tell their users, `It's not free anymore. Guess what? We're selling too," she told the New York Times.

Electronics and entertainment giant Sony was equally unimpressed, telling the Times "We welcome any development which could lead to Napster creating a legitimate service that respects artists' rights and copyright law, "However, this alliance does nothing to address the millions of past acts of copyright infringement by Napster, or those being committed by the company on an ongoing basis."

Artists Against Piracy, the Los Angeles-based group led by Noah Stone that claims to represent the rights of musicians and songwriters, was none too moved by the news, although it said the announcement was encouraging.

" ...(It) is a very encouraging sign that Napster is actively pursuing a business model that will seek to provide payment to rights holders," the statement read.

"However, Artists Against Piracy will actively continue its efforts to work directly with the record labels and digital media companies to ensure fair and appropriate compensation for artists and songwriters"

Tellingly, reaction from, the company that has perhaps walked the finest line between appeasing the recording industry and challenging industry moguls, was quiet bordering on invisible.

Apparently stunned, the company posted a copy of the Official RIAA reaction to the news on the site, a move that did not go unnoticed by visitors.

Chad Boyda, the man behind Napigator, one of the people most likely to benefit if Napster users turn out to be unwilling to pay for their MP3's and start looking elsewhere, told the Times on Wednesday

"It's going to divide the users. Some people are happy to see Napster getting payback. But a lot of other people want their free music or feel like Napster sold out to the record industry. A lot of people feel betrayed."

David Pakman of, a digital music provider which offers a subscription service much like the one offered by, told the Washington Post, "It's the shot heard round the world...this is a major label proving that the lights are on, that 37 million consumers can't be wrong, and that this is an alternative distribution method that must be built on."

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