Two sides to the Napster issue

With regard to the court ruling ordering Napster to "stop enabling the trading of copyrighted material" ("Why record labels squirm," July 28), I guess I'm a little confused. After I have purchased and read a book, I often donate it to the public library. Of course, the library then loans it out to anyone who wants to read it as long as they have a current library card. The public library also has music and videos for patrons to check out. How is this different from people voluntarily swapping music, videos, etc., on the Internet?

Mercia Thomas Ventura, Calf.

Thank you for your editorial about Napster ("Law and the wild, wild Web," July 28). Yes, it is fine to share great ideas with each other. But why is it that when someone gets a great idea for a movie, then produces it and distributes it, we have to pay for it? Why should we pay for the great idea for a particular recipe at a restaurant? It is important for your readers to remember that free distribution of copyrighted materials has been going on since Gutenberg invented the printing press. Lending libraries do it.

Napster is in trouble because they make it possible for you to buy a single CD and distribute it to 300,000 of your closest friends. The big record companies are in trouble because each time someone does this the company loses revenue. On the other hand, I record easy-listening music and upload it to MP3.com where it is available to the public for free. MP3.com pays their musicians. What is it that the legislators are missing here? The solution to this problem will undoubtedly bring an end to the music industry as we know it, but here's the bottom line: If the musicians and their producers don't get paid for their work, there will be no more original music for anyone to fight over.

R.B. Field Vancouver, Canada

Schools need community involvement

I found your article "Corporate ways invade schools" (Aug. 4) most interesting. I have retired after 27 years of teaching in a very successful school district where it is clear that what makes schools "good" is the degree of community involvement and support. This includes the business community as well as parents, clergy, nonprofit and professional organizations, and taxpayers. In our national desperation to raise student achievement, let us applaud the involvement of everyone while not simply passively hoping that the business community will have the answers and solve all the problems in education. The business community can only help, as each of us must, by supporting our public school systems, and helping to correct the things that are wrong. Only then will we have truly met the challenge to improve the climate for peace and happiness for all humanity.

Rowley Elliston Milford, Ohio

American cyclists ahead of French

Regarding "State of the Spokes" (Aug. 2): Having just returned from two weeks in France, I can tell you that bicycle use - at least in the Burgundy region, the Cte d'Or, the Massif Central, and around Paris - is a scant percentage of what it is in the United States. In the country, kids all seem to want a motor scooter, which they use to flash from one side of town to the other in almost continuous loops driving poor Frenchmen and women to distraction.

So while America may be a far cry from Switzerland, where recreational bicycling is very popular, it is still more popular here than in its birthplace and in the hearts and minds of Frenchmen. But I would assuredly love to see all of the US population riding bikes at least once a week.

Tom Kunich Fremont, Calif.

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