[rumori] Presidential candidates drawn into Napster debate

From: H. (hATweirdness.com)
Date: Tue Oct 17 2000 - 16:16:53 PDT


We have some idea where George W. Bush and Al Gore stand on health care,
foreign policy and social security. But what about the issue that has taken
the Net by storm?: Napster and copyright claims.

In a question posted Tuesday morning on the Rolling Cyber Debate hosted by
political information Web site Web White & Blue, a reader identified as Mary
of Front Royal, Va., asked the candidates their views on file sharing and
intellectual property protections.

"Where would your administration draw the line regarding freedom to access
content vs. copyright infringement?" Mary wanted to know.

Gore and Bush each gave a quick three-paragraph response calling for a
compromise that would allow Napster-like technologies to flourish while
compensating artists' creative work.

But a glimmer of each candidate's campaign personality emerged in the
written answer.

Democratic candidate Gore, who has been criticized for making statements
with out-of-place references to his rural childhood, did not disappoint.

While complimenting Napster as a terrific innovation and sounding off about
protecting the rights of artists, he awkwardly stretched to mention his
hometown roots, describing a region "next to the songwriting capital of the
world: Nashville, Tenn."

"I think that protecting a songwriter's intellectual property or any
artist's creative rights is really important," he began simply, then
concluded with a history lesson referencing the "huge controversy" that
erupted "years ago" when radio was invented.

For his part, Republican candidate Bush sought to come off as a tech-savvy
guy easily conversant with overused buzzwords and cliches.

"The Napster case typifies some of the thorny questions we'll face as our
nation shifts from bricks-and-mortar economy to one where our most valuable
commodity is information and creative content," he wrote.

The record industry is embroiled in a lawsuit to shut down Napster, which it
alleges is a haven for music piracy that enables members to copy and swap
songs without authorization from copyright holders.

In the end, however, Bush refused to take a stand on the Napster case,
saying only that "we must find a way to apply our copyright laws...while at
the same time adapting to and utilizing new technologies to deliver media to
consumers in an Information Age."

Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan has not yet posted an answer, and Green
Party member Ralph Nader has turned down requests to participate.

The cyberdebates are hosted by Web White & Blue, a nonpartisan, nonprofit
consortium of 17 Internet sites and news organizations, including Yahoo,
America Online, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Funded by the Markle Foundation, a New York-based philanthropic
organization, the Rolling Cyber Debate is the first online presidential
debate and claims to reach about 70 million people on the Net. It features a
message of the day from the candidates and a question posed by a reader.

Responses can be written, come in the form of audio and video, or simply
link to the candidate's Web sites. A single rebuttal to opponent responses
is also allowed. None were provided to the Napster question.

The cyberdebate runs through Election Day, Nov. 7, and is updated every 30
minutes Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT.

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