Many of the biggest and most powerful companies in the computer/Internet industry have, indirectly at least, come out in support of Napster. The trade associations they fund are filing “friend-of-the-court” opinions intensely critical of the legal ruling, temporarily delayed, that threatens to shut down the file-sharing Web site. Among the companies behind these filings are Sony Electronics, Apple Computer, Real Networks, Cisco Systems, Yahoo, America Online, Amazon.com and Excite@Home. For many, the filings put them at odds with their own corporate colleagues. Sony Electronics, for instance, finds itself opposing Sony Music, that has vowed to stop Napster at all costs.
The central criticism of the Napster ruling seems to be that federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel misapplied copyright law, ruling that a technology commonly used for copyright infringement, even it if can also be used for legal purposes, should be banned. A preferable method of protecting copyrights, according to some of those filing in support of Napster, would be to target individuals who break the law rather than the technology they use. Many fear that, if not reversed, the Napster ruling could severely restrict future technological developments.