Morpheus brings free music

    UCSD was the first stop for the “”Share the Music ‹ Have a Voice”” tour put on by peer-to-peer file-sharing software developers Morpheus, bringing free music to campus on Sept. 29. Bands FL, Antifreeze and Audio Karate performed in front of a crowded noontime Price Center.

    Rachel A. Garcia/Guardian
    Share the Music: FL lead singer John Jonah (left) and guitarist Chris Koushayan (right) play at Price Center to promote file-sharing and free music.

    The tour will be making stops at various college campuses as a response to the Recording Industry Association of America’s recent attempts to prosecute people for sharing music.

    “”The whole purpose of this tour is to have a call to action for file-sharers to contact their local congresspersons, to register to vote and to let their voices be heard so that they cannot be sued and so that we find solutions bigger and better than suing people,”” said Morpheus Vice President of Marketing Gary Nuell. “”The toothpaste is out of the tube and instead of trying to cram it back in by scaring users, it’s time to find an answer.””

    Morpheus won a federal court battle in April, in which judges ruled that software providers could not be held liable for copyright infringement by users.

    “”Our software just allows people to share files. They could be sharing recipes, they could be sharing information about cancer ‹ all kinds of things,”” Nuell said. “”What they do with it, we have no control over, so it’s no different than from somebody grabbing a VHS tape and recording the NFL.””

    The court’s decision is currently being appealed by the RIAA.

    Morpheus’ suggestion is compulsory licensing, a process similar to the licensing done by radio stations, so that artists are compensated for files traded. Nuell said he would also like to see a rise in tariffs on recordable CDs.

    “”We want to see the artists get paid, and that’s why these artists are here,”” he said.

    According to Nuell, the recording label Kung Fu Records, to which Antifreeze and Audio Karate are signed and which partnered with Morpheus for the tour, saw file sharing help their sales.

    “”They saw that files were being traded of Audio Karate before the record came out and sales actually were good,”” Nuell said.

    UCSD students’ responses to recent efforts to punish file sharers have been mixed.

    “”I haven’t been downloading music from the Internet since I got to college because I’m afraid they’re going to track me down for it,”” said John Muir College freshman Andrea Frenkel.

    Others are not changing habits.

    “”I’m not scared,”” said Thurgood Marshall sophomore Lorant Najbauer. “”I’ll share everything I have, from copyrighted movies to songs.””

    According to UCSD policies, a first violation for sharing copyrighted material on the campus’ network will warrant an email warning asking the student to delete the illegal file and acknowledge the request.

    A second violation will cause that student’s Internet connection to be temporarily severed until the problem is fixed. A third will sever the connection permanently and the case will be referred to Student Policy and Judicial Affairs potentially allowing the work’s creator to bring legal action.

    “”We don’t run scans,”” said Academic Computing Services project manager Erik Strahm. “”The recording industry or the movie industry will hire private companies to check for a certain song or movie, it will find out the IP address and will notify the university that a machine on their network is sharing.””

    According to Strahm, there has been a “”huge increase”” in file sharing at UCSD in the past year.

    “”The number of times the industry now contacts us about violations can range from two to three a week to a couple hundred,”” he said. “”Even though the industries are not currently going after people just downloading, there’s no reason to think it’s not around the corner.””

    UCSD ResNet’s Web site provides instructions for students to follow in order to disable sharing on such peer-to-peer programs as Kazaa, Morpheus, LimeWire and FileTopia. By having students do this, ResNet also aims to speed up campus connection speeds.

    ResNet is available as a resource for any student with questions or concerns about file sharing, according to Strahm.

    “”Our job is to prevent students from getting into trouble,”” he said. “”ResNet is not the police.””

    Morpheus will continue its campus tour in October with stops at UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley and UC Davis in its effort to register students to vote and express their concerns over file sharing.

    “”The next battle will move from the court house to Capitol Hill,”” stated Michael Weiss, chief executive officer of StreamCast Networks, the developers of Morpheus. “”We believe grassroots events are an effective forum to drive voter registration and to inform students about using technology responsibly and in a non-infringing manner.””

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