From: Adam Rifkin (Adam@KnowNow.Com)
Date: Fri Sep 15 2000 - 15:03:47 PDT
Friday September 15 4:49 PM ET
Punk band Offspring causes stir with Web giveaway
By Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Punk band Offspring said Friday it will give away
its new album on the Web, hitting a sour note with a recording industry
fighting a landmark copyright case against Internet song-swap service
Napster (news - web sites), which it accuses of promoting online piracy.
Offspring's strategy directly contradicts the recording industry's argument
that Napster's technology is hurting sales by enabling fans to get music
Sony Corp.'s Sony Music, which distributes Offspring and is one of the five
big labels suing Napster, told the band to cancel the giveaway but the band
has refused, industry sources said.
``Digital downloading is not hurting CD sales,'' said Offspring's manager
Redwood City, Calif.-based Napster's service lets fans swap songs for free
by trading MP3 files, a compression format that turns music on compact
discs into small computer files.
Back in 1998, Offspring wanted to put MP3 files of its ''Pretty Fly (for a
White Guy)'' single on its Web site before releasing it to radio stations,
but Sony opposed it.
The song became a huge hit and one of the mostly frequently downloaded
singles of all time on Napster and other Web sites, while sales of
Offspring's ``Americana'' 1998 album skyrocketed at retail stores.
Offspring now believes that making its new album available for free on the
Web will boost sales when the CD hits stores on November 14. Furthermore,
it will let Offspring identify who is downloading its music, Guerinot said.
``This album is going to end up on the Internet anyway, whether we like it
to or not,'' Guerinot said. ``We want to beat them (Napster) to the punch
and find out who our fans are.''
The whole album will be posted by late October, while ''Original
Prankster,'' a single from the new CD, will be available for downloading
next Friday, when Offspring launches a contest giving fans a chance to win
$1 million by downloading the single and registering their e-mail address
with the band.
Some analysts said the scheme could hurt the industry's case against
Napster. In July, a U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction
ordering Napster to ban all big labels' songs from its service, which would
have effectively shut it down.
Napster won a last-minute reprieve and an appeals court has set October 2
for the two sides to make oral arguments.
In a statement, Sony said, ``while the band has come up with a
million-dollar idea for their fans and we're excited about the contest, we
have very real concerns when it comes to unsecured downloading of music and
piracy on the Internet. We're hopeful that we can arrive at a method that
will protect everyone's rights and still maintain the integrity of the
Offspring is among a growing list of musical acts, including Limp Bizkit
and rapper Chuck D., who have come out in favor of Napster and its technology.
``The Offspring view of MP3 technology and programs like Napster as a vital
and necessary means to promoting music and fostering better relationship
with our fans,'' the band says on its Web site at (http:www.offspring.com).
In firing the latest salvo in the landmark battle with the recording
industry, Napster on Wednesday told a federal appeals court the case boiled
down to the industry's efforts to keep a ''chokehold'' on music promotion
The Recording Industry Association of America (news - web sites) (RIAA
(news - web sites)), which represents the big record companies like Sony,
Seagram Co. Ltd.'s Universal Music, Bertelsmann AG BMG, Sony Music and Time
Warner's Warner Music Group and EMI, declined comment on the Offspring matter.
In its latest brief, filed with the Ninth Circuit on Sept 8, the RIAA
argued that Napster's file-swapping service ''enables, encourages and
directly benefits from'' copyright infringement on millions of protected
The U.S. Copyright Office and the U.S. Justice Department (news - web
sites) sided with the RIAA in ``friend of the court'' briefs filed last
Friday, along with 20 groups from the entertainment, publishing and sports
Friday's arrangement gives Kramden Enterprise, which handles online promotions for recording labels, access to promotions to Napster's community of more than 30 million users. -- "Napster Tries Partnering", http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article/0,,12_461751,00.html
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