A Kick in the Keister for Napster

Philosophical ruminations.
May 2 2000 3:00 AM

A Kick in the Keister for Napster

... And Justice for All?

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Heavy-metal band Metallica has sued three universities and an Internet startup to prevent the free downloading of its music. The suit named Indiana University, the University of Southern California, Yale University, and Napster, whose software makes it easy to find and play music stored on the Web. The suit charges copyright infringement and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The three schools were dropped from the suit when they agreed to block Napster from their computer systems, leaving Napster as the only defendant. Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard Law School criticized Yale for folding, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "[I]t was like a library caving to an author who doesn't want a book to be lent out." In a related case, rapper Dr. Dre has filed a similar suit against five universities, Napster, and five Napster users to be named later.

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Italy's Best of Breed

Italy's wolf population of 400 is growing despite being aggressively hunted and poisoned. Conservation Biology reports that the country's wolf population has grown by about 7 percent a year since 1976, when protection laws were passed and the beasts numbered at about 100. Also, a DNA study of 101 Italian wolves indicates that the animals' bloodlines remain pure, unlike most European wolves, which have interbred with feral dogs.

Making Book

The University of Chicago Press has named Paula Barker Duffy, formerly of the Free Press and Harvard Business School Press, as its new director. Duffy is the first woman to assume leadership of a major American university press.

A Certain Slant of Light

A newly discovered photograph of the adult Emily Dickinson has been posted on the Web site of Philip Gura, a professor of American literature and culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gura says that he recently purchased the photo, but he does not say from whom. The photo, dated to 1864-65, is only the second image of Dickinson known to exist—the other is a much older daguerreotype, made when the writer was a teen-ager. Gura authenticated the photograph by comparing it with computer-generated negatives of the early daguerreotype.

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Radio Yeats

An essay in the spring Wilson Quarterly documents William Butler Yeats' radio career. The poet recorded 11 times for the BBC in the 1930s, offering readings of his poems and a performance of his translation of Oedipus the King. But by 1937, Yeats was using his air time to make political statements, reading his poem "Roger Casement," an indictment of what he saw as British betrayal in the execution of the Anglo-Irish martyr Roger Casement. Complete with sound effects and singing, the program turned into "a fiasco ... [where] every human sound turned into the groans, roars, bellows of a wild [beast]" as it came over the wireless, writes Colton Johnson. A few days later, Yeats rerecorded the program with a different microphone setup to better effect, and he pronounced the session a success.

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