Napster can't seem to catch a break

By Noah Robischon
Updated February 23, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

In another blow to Napster, a federal appeals court ruled Feb. 12 that the song-swapping site knowingly allowed its 58 million users to violate copyright laws. Despite plans for an appeal, Shawn Fanning‘s controversial brainchild is likely to be unplugged — even before its planned relaunch this summer as a for-pay service in conjunction with new partner BMG. What’s an MP3 addict to do? Here’s a seven-step recovery program.

Noah Robischon

1 Admit you are powerless and binge, like the 1.6 million simultaneous users who began stockpiling MP3s before a shutdown that may come in weeks.

2 Believe in a power greater than yourself: the U.S. Congress. Says Fanning, ”Users writing their congressmen about these issues is really important.”

3 Consider boycotting anti-Napster musicians like Metallica and Eminem (it’s not like he needs the sales). For a list, visit

4 Make amends. sends money directly to the musicians whose tracks you’ve downloaded. Fiona Apple, Tom Petty, and the Foo Fighters have all received payments, according to site creator Matt Goyer: ”A lot of them cash the checks but don’t acknowledge it.”

5 Seek a less-user-friendly clone like Napigator,, or LimeWire.

6 Make peace. Steve Gottlieb, founder of TVT Records — the only label to settle its suit against Napster — proposes a legal moratorium: ”We should work together to make this the most potent legitimate force in music.”

7 Go back to actually buying CDs — you still remember how, right?