Napster versus the music industry -- As CD sales decline, musicians from Elton John to Metallica choose sides

By Noah Robischon
Updated June 16, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

If the internet music scene once had the rowdiness of punk rock, it’s lately been sounding more like an opera, with dueling lawsuits, performers taking center stage, and arias of research findings. Here’s a recap of events in the last few weeks:

— Musicians continued to choose up sides as Metallica’s fight with song-trading site Napster ( reverberated through the industry. Courtney Love, Limp Bizkit, and Offspring have taken the pro-download stance already favored by Chuck D, while Snoop Dogg, Elton John, and Art Alexakis from Everclear are the latest to speak out for the antipiracy camp. Prince, meanwhile, finally took a stand on his name.

— The May 24 release of a study showing declining CD sales at record stores within five miles of college campuses over the last two years amplifies the industry’s claim that MP3 piracy is hurting profits. The research didn’t account for online sales, however, and failed to note that only 53 percent of all stores polled are within five miles of a college campus — so dorm-room downloaders aren’t necessarily the only culprits.

— The scope of the debate continued to widen as people realized that Napster-style trading programs like Gnutella, Scour, and iMesh allow (but do not condone) the trading of any kind of file — full-length films included. The phrase ”pirate movie” could take on a whole new currency.