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Bertelsmann addresses Napster Nazi charges
(IDG) -- Just weeks after forming an alliance with Napster, German media giant Bertelsmann found itself answering charges from German law-enforcement authorities that the online music exchange enables the spread of right-wing extremist music.
The statement continued: "In Napster's file-sharing network, each user decides for himself which titles he will make available to other users .... Napster is merely the transport platform."
Bertelsmann and Napster announced on Oct. 31 a partnership to develop a fee-based music downloading service.
The statement came in response to charges leveled by the Verfassungsschutz (Constitutional Protection Office) in the state of Lower Saxony. The office is responsible for enforcing Germany's laws against incitement to racial hatred, under which much neo-Nazi music is banned.
"Napster offers today the platform for neo-Nazi music worldwide," said Verfassungsschutz spokesman Rudiger Hesse. "I can easily download any title that's on the index (of banned music) to my hard drive, and burn compact discs of it." He added that previously, neo-Nazi music was exchanged "under the table" in the form of illegally sold CDs. "The biggest problem now is that everyone can access it," he said.
Hesse said authorities had little recourse but to appeal to the companies to stop the exchange. "We're pleased" with Schmidt's statement of cooperation, he added.
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