Even Iowans who don’t download music likely know what Napster is — or was — and the ensuing legal challenges about using a home computer and the Internet to get songs. A debate and discussion is planned tonight (Wednesday) at the University of Iowa on the issue involving students and music industry executives. Kimbrew McLeod, a communication studies professor at the U-of-I, is organizing the summit which starts with a debate. The student debate team will debate over the point of whether or not the music industry should sue people who download copyrighted material. McLeod says tens of millions of people are downloading music, legal or not. He says more people in the U.S. downloaded music last year than voted for President Bush. McLeod says it’s an issue that’s very worthy of more study. The first half of the event will be the student debate team and the second half will be music industry experts discussing the issue — music artists, people who run record labels and entertainment lawyers. McLeod says U-of-I students who live off campus are prevented from downloading music from within the dorms, but he says plenty of students living off-campus download. At least half of the students download, some infrequently, others who have vast libraries of six or seven-thousand MP3 files of songs. McLeod said he hopes the debate and discussion will trigger students to think about intellectual property and their role in protecting it. He says “The issue of downloading music is an important one for undergraduates, especially because a lot of them do it and risk being sued.” The event begins at 7 P.M. (Wednesday) in the U-of-I’s Van Allen Hall. The first 150 people who arrive will get a free one-month membership to a music subscription service.
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