Tupac MP3 Pirates Beware - Rolling Stone
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Tupac MP3 Pirates Beware

Tupac MP3 Pirates Beware

The estate of the late Tupac Shakur is going after online pirates
who illegally post MP3 files of the rapper’s music, or take online
orders for bootleg records.| Lawyers for the late hip-hop artist’s
estate recently won concessions from online giant Lycos, which
agreed to take down offending Shakur-related sites from the
company’s affiliated web host, Tripod.

“Lycos in the end terminated between fifteen and twenty MP3 sites,
and fifteen to twenty non-MP3 sites,” reports Shakur attorney
Donald David. “When we provide Lycos with a more extensive list,
they’ll terminate those as well.”

While pirated MP3 music files are rampant on the Web, few acts
have aggressively gone after the offenders. David says that because
Shakur is dead, his estate feels compelled to target online pirates
as a way to “maintain the integrity of his catalog.” That’s been
especially difficult since nearly two dozen bootleg albums
featuring unreleased Shakur tracks have made their way illegally
into the hands of fans, often through the Internet.

David says most of those unreleased songs are raw, have not been
mixed and, often times, the samples have not been approved. The
lawyer says the estate even found an example where the master of an
unreleased track, featuring Shakur and another well-known rapper,
was edited and crudely cut so the song featured Shakur and the
amateur online pirate who was hawking the song as his own.

David says if the rapper were still alive, he’d back the online
sweep. “He didn’t appreciate being taken advantage of,” he

As for Lycos’ role, Shakur’s attorney concedes the law is still
evolving over what responsibilities Web hosts, such as Tripod, have
over their pages created by separate individuals. In fact, in
written a correspondence, Lycos’ lawyer argued the estate’s demands
“represent an effort to impose significant burdens on the free
expression of speech over the Internet and to use the intellectual
property laws in ways that are fundamentally incompatible with the
First Amendment.”

Nonetheless, the company, “in the interest of facilitating a speedy
resolution of your client’s concerns,” agreed to disable the
targeted Web pages from Tripod. Brian Payea, a spokesman for Lycos,
played down the conflict, saying all Web page operators sign a
terms of use policy and that anybody found in violation is
disabled. “We take down pages everyday,” says Payea, who still
stresses the company is not responsible for the content of the
individually run sites.

“I don’t care why they did it,” David says of Lycos’ move. “As
long as they did it.”


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