STONE IN OUR PASSWAY… According to John Borland's August 27 article on,  when the Promina Health System hospital near Atlanta recently had a problem with slow computer networks, they ran Packeteer software and discovered that much of the slowdown was due to trading music files. Many other companies are using the same or similar software, either because they hope to speed up their systems or because they want to avoid being sued by the RIAA (one company has already paid $1 million for allowing the operation of  "an internal MP3 network"). Similarly, universities now routinely use software that "throttles" bandwidth, making it difficult to download music.

Beyond these technical and legal issues stands the real issue: Tens of millions of Americans want to use the Internet to download music. Why should this be denied? The Internet was developed entirely with public money-the taxes of the very people (or their kids) who download music-and it was done with the original intent of trading files. The infrastructure and key protocols and all of the key software came out of public institutions.

Then on April 30, 1995, the government and the organizations that built the Internet from scratch turned it over to commercial networks. In the wake of this hijacking, the major record labels now assert their ownership of music which they at best coerced out of the hands of its creators and insist on using the Internet to track listeners who won't pay their ransom down like common criminals.

If Americans want to use the Internet that we all helped to create to share our culture with each other, why shouldn't we? As soon as we stop accepting the idea that corporations are more important than people, we can and we will.

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