DOWNLOADING GOES ON IN FACE OF FILTERS; MUSIC LOVERS FIND IT EASY TO GET AROUND TECHNOLOGY MEANT TO BLOCK ACCESS TO COPYRIGHTED SONGS ON NAPSTER

WHEN ROSE BIE of Oakland logged onto Napster Monday, she found it business as usual.

She downloaded “Je T’aime” by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum and the Emotions’ “The Best of My Love.”

She wasn’t alone.

A day after Napster enacted a filter technology designed to block access to copyrighted songs, users didn’t have to try too hard to get to their favorite artists.

Reports said many users were continuing to download a wide variety of songs Monday. And the Associated Press said it succeeded in downloading several Metallica songs, including “Enter Sandman” and “I Disappear,” as well as each of the Top 10 Billboard singles including rapper Joe’s “Stutter” and Crazy Town’s “Butterfly.”

Meanwhile, Napster’s crackdown prompted fresh frenzies of free-music downloads at other Web sites that use Napster software but are beyond the easy reach of recording industry lawsuits.

For example, the Napigator program Monday showed more than 96 million music files being traded by almost half a million people through computer servers located as far away as Italy, New Zealand and Russia numbers that rivaled Napster itself even as downloads peaked this weekend.

On Friday, to avoid a complete company shutdown, Napster promised in federal court to start a song-screening process.

But it was clear Monday that the screen had sizable holes in it.

For example, an AP search for the Metallica song “Unforgiven” came up empty. But the AP and other users found ways to circumvent the screen, including misspelling the song title or artist. And Reuters reported that others were turning to Web sites like www.timwilson.org, where song searches could use a code to bypass the filter.

Howard King, attorney for Metallica and Dr. Dre, who are both suing Napster for alleged trademark infringement, expressed frustration after speaking with the San Mateo-based song-swapping software maker Monday. The two artists wanted 200 songs blocked, and many were still available.

“They need to tweak their screen (and) do some sort of a term-based analysis,” said King, noting that Metallica’s “Fade to Black” was still appearing on Napster, with various spellings using both letters and numerals.

“I don’t think they’ve done anything on Dr. Dre. Maybe that’s something they’re going to implement today,” King said. “If a week from now the results aren’t better I think you would have to say I’d be dissatisfied.”

Before Napster started its promised screening, download traffic was heavy. More than 11,100 people shared a total of 2.2 million files Sunday evening through just one of dozens of Napster servers.

Matt Peterson, manager of Rasputin Music in Concord, was at it at 1 a.m. Saturday. Ever since he heard that Napster might be doomed, the 27-year-old says he’s visited the site quite a bit in the past few months, about 25 hours a week getting music that isn’t for sale in record stores.

Robert Brown of Oakland left his computer on over the weekend and picked up a couple hundred files, including books on tape an issue that has remained quiet amidst the music outcry. When he returned to work Monday, he managed to get a little Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Jennifer Lopez’s “If You Had My Love.”

“I am downloading stuff as we speak,” said Brown.

Napster so far has no comment on the filtering, although it stated on its Web site that the process won’t be easy.

“It has involved a significant investment of time and resources,” a statement said. “However, we believe it is superior to shutting the service down and disbanding the community during the transition period to the new membership-based service.”

That was why Bie didn’t expect Napster to be any different when she logged in Monday morning.

“As somebody in technology,” explains Bie, a graphic artist, “you know that these things take forever. It’s too huge a (song) database to make changes.”

Actually, one noticeable change to Napster is its home page urging ardent users to lobby Congress and “speak out.” Below the News Flash summary of the March 2 federal district court hearing is the “Speak Out!” call to action:

“Napster is under fire. The recording industry is taking steps to shut down the Napster community. You can help us out in a number of ways by communicating with Congress and others. Join the Napster Action Network and get active!”

The software being installed on Napster’s servers will block access to 1 million music files, the company said. Because it will filter out variations on each song’s title and artist’s name, the actual number of tunes screened out will be smaller, but officials refused to say how many distinct songs will be blocked.

Even if the recording industry manages to cow Napster Inc., other sites are willing to step into the void. A 21-year-old Canadian student is even willing to go the equivalent of an offshore account by setting up a “data haven” platform off the coast of Britain.

“I am sad to see Napster bending to the record labels’ will,” said University of Waterloo, Ontario, student Matt Goyer in an interview with the Toronto Globe and Mail. “Let’s preserve it, and we’ll move it offshore where the record industry can’t touch it.”

A compromise is selectively blocking a few songs on each album. “That might be better for artists,” said Vicki Larnach, 15, of Martinez. “The fact that they want to block a few is fine.”

Bryan Gigantino and Brad Wiseman, seventh-graders at Foothill Middle School in Walnut Creek, agree that compromise would be best for both buyers and artists. “I heard of this band New Found Glory off of Napster,” said Gigantino, “but downloading took too long, so I bought their CD.”

“Block some of it, but not the full album,” said Brad. “It’s promotional for them.”

Tracy Knobloch, another Rasputin employee, who looks for out-of-print titles like the Nine Inch Nails remix from Napster, will continue to use Napster no matter what happens. “I’m waiting until I can’t use it anymore,” she says. “If they’re asking me to pay, I will pay.”

Some people though have already weaned themselves from the digital-music addiction, like high school sophomore Kian Ameli. Clayton Valley High School officials barred students from using Napster on its speedy Internet connections after they noticed files eating up computer memory.

Jonathan, a 15-year-old from Bay Point, said he stopped using the free music service as soon as they were taken to court. It did, though, entice him to buy CDs since he could sample songs first. Bie also returned to music because of the site.

“I’m kind of a late bloomer onto Napster, so this whole thing of it leaving won’t break my heart,” she says. “I will say Napster turned me back into music. I wasn’t into the whole buying CDs for a long time. I remembered all these cool songs that I liked, these new songs that I heard on the radio, it made me start paying attention to music again.”

Staff writers Vera H-C Chan and Lisa Shafer contributed to this

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