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Commentary :: Alternative Media

Raid was repressive

Letters to the Editor

October 7, 2004

Raid was repressive

Armed federal marshals and agents of the FCC stormed Free Radio, toppled their broadcasting antenna and stole $5,000 worth of equipment.

Claims by the FCC that Free Radio broadcasts are illegal because the station is unlicensed are laughable. FCC harassment of Free Radio began long before there was even a licensing process. Under the current process, a license would cost the financially strapped collective tens of thousands of dollars. Yet even if the Free Radio collective had sums of money far beyond their reach, the FCC has made clear that they would not allow Free Radio a license to broadcast anyway.

The current licensing process is set up to make it impossible for micro-broadcasters to gain a license, so the FCC can claim there were legal avenues for those they have silenced.

Federal raids on micro-broadcast stations are a regular form of repression in this country.

STEVEN ARGUE

SANTA CRUZ

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2004/October/07/edit/let.htm

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Commentary :: Police State

S.C. police messed up

Letters to the Editor

October 7, 2004

The Santa Cruz Police Department’s failure to respond to help the federal officers shutting down Free Radio Santa Cruz was either a colossal failure of communication or an exercise in political correctness run amok. If the latter is the case, the chief of police is indeed between a rock and a hard place trying to comply with the law or keeping right with his superiors, some of whom support the unlawful radio station.

SCPD went to the home of Free Radio Santa Cruz not all that long ago and evicted them from a premise they occupied. The radio folks resisted their ouster with violent and disgusting outbursts. Surely somebody remembered that.

Come on Howard Skerry, chief of police, level with us. Was it a failure to communicate either within your department or with the feds, or was it deemed politically correct to lay off Free Radio Santa Cruz? How would you feel if you called the sheriff and asked for back up and Tracy answered, "Sorry, I can’t afford it."

Personally, I prefer to believe that there was an internal communications gaff at SCPD and you should apologize to the feds.

BILL PLAGEMAN

SANTA CRUZ

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2004/October/07/edit/let.htm

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News :: Alternative Media

Making waves for the use of airwaves

December 9, 2004

Making waves for the use of airwaves
The voices come out in support of Free Radio Santa Cruz
By WALLACE BAINE
Sentinel staff writer

Freedom ain’t free, the politicians tell us, and, in that same vein, neither is Free Radio Santa Cruz.

The object of a federal raid in September, the Santa Cruz-based radio collective is in dire need of funds, and that’s where U. Utah Phillips comes in.

The last-of-a-breed Phillips, the singer/storyteller known for his defiantly old left/labor political leanings, was appalled at what he saw as an over-reaching of federal authority against the handful of radio programmers operating a broadcast station without a license. So he called his friends at Free Radio Santa Cruz and volunteered his services for a benefit concert.

"I had developed a real bond with those folks," said Phillips. "I’ve hung out with them. I’ve been on their station ..." He even has ridden freight trains with members of the Santa Cruz radio collective. For an old horse like Phillips, that’s as deep as brotherhood gets.

Phillips is headlining a benefit for Free Radio Santa Cruz on Friday at the Rio Theatre in a show that also features Santa Cruz folkabilly trio Devil Makes Three, free-spirited singer/songwriter Keith Greeninger and San Francisco folk/protest icon Faith Petric. Money raised will go towards helping FRSC replace broadcasting equipment seized by U.S. Marshals during a Sept. 29 raid.

On that day, 15 federal marshals and six agents of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved in on the "pirate" station’s headquarters on Laurel Street and seized the radio station’s equipment.

"They took everything," said FRSC member George Cadman. "Our board, our computer, our hard drive, our CD players, phone box ... That’s about $5,000 to $10,000 worth of equipment."

The station was broadcasting at 101.1 FM at the low power of 40 watts at the time without a required federal license. The FCC had warned the collective at least four times in the past to stop broadcasting before the siege. The federal agency has not levied fines against the station.

Cadman said that the federal raid has helped rally local supporters to the collective’s plight. "We’ve had enormous support from the community. They really feel violated by these people who live outside of our community coming in here to enforce these laws this way."

Phillips is particularly sensitive to free-speech issues involving radio. For years, he’s been a radio programmer in his hometown of Nevada City on the community station KVMR. Phillips makes a distinction between "community radio" and "public radio," the latter affiliated with the government-supported Corporation of Public Broadcasting, the parent organization of National Public Radio and other networks. Community radio, he said, comes more from the community in which it serves. "Community radio upholds a long tradition of free speech, better than a half century."

Phillips said that Friday’s show will function as a rally as much as a concert. "There is nothing more lethal than a whole evening of people singing political songs."

As for the programmers of Free Radio Santa Cruz, they’re broadcasting again at 101.1 FM, but not, they say, in violation of federal law. Technically, the group is sending their signal out only on the Internet. But a group called Santa Cruz Radio Access Movement (SCRAM) is taking that Webcast and putting it out again on the FM dial. "SCRAM was created to liberate the airwaves for the people of Santa Cruz," said a statement from the group posted on the Web site santacruz.indymedia.org. FRSC’s Cadman said that the collective has no connection to SCRAM.

FRSC has been broadcasting without a license in the area for almost a decade now. Cadman said the collective is not planning any legal action against the federal government, but is planning to continue its broadcasts of news, music and commentary, despite the federal action. Currently, the members of the collective pay monthly dues, but the group is still in need of support to pay bills as well as restore equipment.

For Phillips, the plight of Free Radio Santa Cruz is an example of top-down power telling citizens to "shut up and do what you’re told."

"We’re living in an increasingly repressive environment," he said. "This is a critical time in our history. We have to ask ourselves: Are we going to start behaving like free people, or just abandon ourselves to commercialism and mass culture?"

Contact Wallace Baine at wbaine@santacruzsentinel.com.


If You Go

WHAT: U. Utah Phillips, the Devil Makes Three, Keith Greeninger and Faith Petric in a benefit for Free Radio.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Friday.

WHERE: The Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz.

TICKETS: $21.

DETAILS: 479-9421.

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2004/December/09/style/stories/03style.htm

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News :: Alternative Media : Resistance & Tactics

Councilmen back pirate station against FCC

September 3, 2003

Councilmen back pirate station against FCC
By DAN WHITE
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — The airwave pirates of Free Radio Santa Cruz-96.3 FM often jab the City Council for "anti-poor" policies.

But two City Councilmen, at the urging of a "Freak Radio" programmer, are telling the feds to back off and leave the tiny underground station alone.

Late last week, the Federal Communications Commission stopped by Free Radio Santa Cruz and left behind a notice of unlicensed broadcasting.

According to the unpaid staff of the 35-watt station, crammed into the top floor of a downtown house, the notice stated "spurious emissions ... were discovered to be interfering with broadcast TV."

They said the notice implied the threat of a $10,000 fine and jail time, but that no one went to the door to greet the visitor, and "the notice was left on the porch."

FCC enforcement officials could not be reached to comment. The FCC holds that even the smallest pirate stations have the potential to jam licensed stations’ signals.

Broadcaster Vince "V-Man" Lombardo asked the city for support, and Vice Mayor Scott Kennedy and Councilman Mark Primack are backing a potential emergency resolution, which is set to face a council vote tonight.

Kennedy said the government is behaving ludicrously.

Kennedy said the fact that Free Radio broadcasters have criticized the council "makes it more important (to support it). Obviously, free speech isn’t predicated on agreement. It’s the outlet that challenges groupthink."

Free Radio broadcaster Robert "Skidmark Bob" Duran said previous council support seemed to give the station more clout in dealing with the federal government.

"(The FCC) has been pretty hands-off since the City Council supported us last time."

He isn’t sure how seriously they should take the latest FCC threat.

"Every once in a while they come and check up on us. They obviously know where we are. We are not hiding from them. We just haven’t complied with them."

The resolution is really a rewritten version of a similar measure passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in support of SF Liberation Radio, another unlicensed station.

The resolution expresses "adamant opposition to suppression of Free Radio Santa Cruz 96.3 FM," and asks the full council to follow suit tonight. The resolution urges federal, state and local officials "to support policies and practices that encourage diverse local noncommercial media."

The pirate station has been broadcasting for eight years. It broadcasts a mix of radical protest songs, commentary, world music and on-air debates as well as broadsides by activist Robert Norse.

While the station and the council have dramatically different views about politics in Santa Cruz, council members have been invited to air their opinions on the station.

The resolution, if passed, would be the latest in a series of defiant statements toward the federal government, criticizing war on Iraq, the USA Patriot Act, and the Drug Enforcement Administration raid last year on a medical pot farm.

The collective also has been discussing the next course of action, now that a Christian radio station is operating in the Salinas/Monterey area under the same frequency — 96.3. Air 1, the owners of that station, could not be reached to comment Tuesday.

Some of the broadcasters say they believe there is a correlation between the competing signal and the recent FCC visit to the station. Lombardo called it an attempt to elbow the station out of the way.

Contact Dan White at dwhite@santa-cruz.com

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News :: Alternative Media : Government & Elections

Councilmen back pirate station against FCC

September 3, 2003

Councilmen back pirate station against FCC
By DAN WHITE
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — The airwave pirates of Free Radio Santa Cruz-96.3 FM often jab the City Council for "anti-poor" policies.

But two City Councilmen, at the urging of a "Freak Radio" programmer, are telling the feds to back off and leave the tiny underground station alone.

Late last week, the Federal Communications Commission stopped by Free Radio Santa Cruz and left behind a notice of unlicensed broadcasting.

According to the unpaid staff of the 35-watt station, crammed into the top floor of a downtown house, the notice stated "spurious emissions ... were discovered to be interfering with broadcast TV."

They said the notice implied the threat of a $10,000 fine and jail time, but that no one went to the door to greet the visitor, and "the notice was left on the porch."

FCC enforcement officials could not be reached to comment. The FCC holds that even the smallest pirate stations have the potential to jam licensed stations’ signals.

Broadcaster Vince "V-Man" Lombardo asked the city for support, and Vice Mayor Scott Kennedy and Councilman Mark Primack are backing a potential emergency resolution, which is set to face a council vote tonight.

Kennedy said the government is behaving ludicrously.

Kennedy said the fact that Free Radio broadcasters have criticized the council "makes it more important (to support it). Obviously, free speech isn’t predicated on agreement. It’s the outlet that challenges groupthink."

Free Radio broadcaster Robert "Skidmark Bob" Duran said previous council support seemed to give the station more clout in dealing with the federal government.

"(The FCC) has been pretty hands-off since the City Council supported us last time."

He isn’t sure how seriously they should take the latest FCC threat.

"Every once in a while they come and check up on us. They obviously know where we are. We are not hiding from them. We just haven’t complied with them."

The resolution is really a rewritten version of a similar measure passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in support of SF Liberation Radio, another unlicensed station.

The resolution expresses "adamant opposition to suppression of Free Radio Santa Cruz 96.3 FM," and asks the full council to follow suit tonight. The resolution urges federal, state and local officials "to support policies and practices that encourage diverse local noncommercial media."

The pirate station has been broadcasting for eight years. It broadcasts a mix of radical protest songs, commentary, world music and on-air debates as well as broadsides by activist Robert Norse.

While the station and the council have dramatically different views about politics in Santa Cruz, council members have been invited to air their opinions on the station.

The resolution, if passed, would be the latest in a series of defiant statements toward the federal government, criticizing war on Iraq, the USA Patriot Act, and the Drug Enforcement Administration raid last year on a medical pot farm.

The collective also has been discussing the next course of action, now that a Christian radio station is operating in the Salinas/Monterey area under the same frequency — 96.3. Air 1, the owners of that station, could not be reached to comment Tuesday.

Some of the broadcasters say they believe there is a correlation between the competing signal and the recent FCC visit to the station. Lombardo called it an attempt to elbow the station out of the way.

Contact Dan White at dwhite@santa-cruz.com

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2003/September/03/local/stories/04local.htm

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News :: Alternative Media : Resistance & Tactics

Free Radio Santa Cruz 96.3 FM Visited by FCC; Stays On Air in Defiance

January 16, 2000

Free Radio Santa Cruz 96.3 FM Visited by FCC; Stays On Air in Defiance

At approximately 4:00 pm January 14, 2000, the studio of FRSC 96.3 fm was visited by William R. Zears from the FCC's San Francisco field office. FRSC programmer V-Man spotted Zears in the driveway of the house where the 40 watt station broadcasts from. He appeared to be alone and was writing down license plate numbers of cars in the vicinity. V-Man stepped out of the house and approached the agent, asking what he was doing. "Is this where the radio station is located?" asked Zears. V-Man was heard saying "Do you have a warrant?" as he turned back towards the door. The agent saw V-man's FREE RADIO SANTA CRUZ 96.3 FM silkscreened sweatshirt and responded, "This must be where it is." Zears, who followed V-Man to the porch, was then informed that he was trespassing and told to leave the property. The pesky, yet persistent, agent Zears then muttered something about accepting some paperwork as the front door came to a thud. V-Man reemerged from the house with a tape recorder, after informing the deejays as to what was taking place and advising them to stay inside and stay on the air, only to find him still at the license numbers game. At this point the agent uttered no words as he went about his task, and V-Man followed him down the street berating him as cordially as he could. This is when the digital camera came out of Zears' pocket and started snapping photos of the antenna and the porch of the house. As V-Man headed inside for reinforcements, the sly Zears made his way to a nearby parking lot and snapped a few more photos of the rear portion of the house, just for good measure. V-Man came out from the house with a resident(unaffiliated with Free Radio Santa Cruz) of the house who had a camera, as well. She was able to get a few shots of the agent and his car, a newer model white Ford FCC direction finding vehicle, license number, 4R05506.

The paperwork left on the mailbox was a notice of unlicensed radio operation, your standard variety. It's letterhead is the old compliance and information bureau's with the words "compliance and information" crossed out in blue ink and the word "enforcement" written in its place. It also contains a blatant inaccuracy with the violations cited. The first check mark states in part "... refused to allow an inspection of your radio equipment..." then, in the second violation checked, it states in part "A valid FCC radio license for your radio transmissions on 96.3 mhz was not in evidence at the time of inspection." These two statements are in glaring contradiction to each other. It goes on to violate the station for not complying with Part 15 rules. The interesting thing about the notice, is that it gives the unlicensed outfit a clean bill of health by leaving unchecked the two violations concerning safety hazards with air/ground communications interference and spurious emissions on other frequencies. The station itself is committed to staying on the air as an act of civil disobedience with an illegitimate bureaucracy. Station founder Skidmark Bob probably summed up the mood best when he was heard on the air later that night saying "Just another day here at Free Radio Santa Cruz."

********************************************************************************************************************************************

This story was OBVIOUSLY written by V-Man and of course is copyright free. In fact, the author strongly encourages you to please, please, please distribute as widely as possible, especially over the air of an unlicensed microradio/free radio station.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT FREE RADIO SANTA CRUZ 96.3 FM @
(831) 427- 4523 VOICEMAIL
(831) 427- FRSC IN STUDIO
frsc@cruzio.com
vman963@hotmail.com
P0 BOX 7507 SANTA CRUZ CA 95061

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News :: Alternative Media

Santa Cruz (CA) City Council Passes Resolution of Support for Free Radio Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz (CA) City Council Passes Resolution of Support for Free Radio Santa Cruz

From: "In cognito"
Date sent: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 19:24:09 PST

I'm happy to report to ya'll the city council of santa cruz passed a resolution of support for free radio santa cruz!!!!! The vote was 5-1 with councilmember Mike Hernandez absent. Mayor Beiers, counilmembers Krohn, Sugar, Fitzmaurice, & Rotkin all voted in favor and councilmember Cynthia Matthews voted against the resolution. About 40 people showed up in support from the community and 11 had signed up to speak. Ironically, in order to get the resolution passed tonite (just in time for the fcc's meeting on Thurs) we had to ask all 11 people to give up their right to address the council on this matter. They were ready to put this item on their calender for the next meeting in two nweeks in order to hear from everyone. After a little discussion on the matter and a few changes to the measure it was voted on and passed. I will try to post the language of the resolution up here tommorrow, but right now I'm gonna go celebrate!!!

A quick word of thanks to Steven Provizer from Radio Free Allston for informing me of the Boston council action (ours was modelled on that one, but slightly different) and to Ted Coopman for comming out to the meeting, sorry you had to leave

By the way, Ted, it went down around 6:10 pm


Free the Air,
love
V-MAN

text of resolution:

Whereas, the City of Santa Cruz is committed to the principles of free speech outlined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and

Whereas, the City of Santa Cruz is committed to the open exchange of ideas and information on the local radio dial; and

Whereas, FREE RADIO SANTA CRUZ 96.3 f.m. is a completely non-profit, non-commercial, independent radio station, operating with 40 watts of power, which strives to provide the Santa Cruz community with a platform for the open exchange of ideas and infomation; and

Whereas, citizens in our community with no previous radio experience, can participate in a truly democratic form of communicationwith their friends and neighbors over the public airwaves; and

Whereas, FREE RADIO SANTA CRUZ 96.3 f.m. offers a wide variety of musical, educational, and political programming which truly represents the diverse face of our community; and

Whereas, FREE RADIO SANTA CRUZ 96.3 f.m. goes to great lengths to ensure that their equipment operates without causing ant harmful interference with any other radio signal; and

Whereas, the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has increased rapidly the rate of consolidation in the broadcast industry, particularly radio. As a result, far fewer community based radio outlets offer programming that serves their unique locales; and

Whereas, the FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC) has not made broadcast frequencies available for community use since 1978 when apolicy decision was made to stop licensing "CLASS D FM" stations, which used less than 100 watts of power; and

Whereas, the FCC currently has three petitions for rule making on "low-power" or "micro-radio" and has continually postponed on a decision; and

Whereas, operations, such as, FREE RADIO SANTA CRUZ 96.3 f.m. help to alleviate concerns over the media mergers currently being witnessed;

THEREFORE BE IT, RESOLVED, The City Council of the City of Santa Cruz supports the expansion of opportunities for these kinds of low-power radio stations to operate and calls on the FCC to make such opportunities available to local communities.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this document be sent to the FCC and other interested parties.

http://www.radio4all.org/news/santacruzcc.html

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News :: Arts & Culture : Globalization & Capitalism

Music file-sharing case before high court

Music file-sharing case before high court

Ruling could have major effect on future of entertainment industry, consumer rights

Benny Evangelista, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, March 28, 2005

The legal storm stirred nearly six years ago by Napster -- the now defunct Internet file-sharing program that rocked the music industry -- will reach the U.S. Supreme Court this week in a case that could alter the downloading habits of millions of people.

Although the big record labels successfully shut down Redwood City's Napster in 2001, the popularity of file sharing spawned a number of successors whom the entertainment industry has so far been unable to stop.

That has set the stage for a showdown this Tuesday, when the high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in MGM vs. Grokster, seen as the most significant copyright law case in two decades.

The hearing is the entertainment industry's appeal of a 2003 decision by a federal judge who ruled that companies that offered the popular file-sharing programs Kazaa, Morpheus and Grokster could not be held liable for copyright violations, even if their users were breaking laws.

On the MGM side are 28 of the world's most powerful movie studios and record companies, who say the case is about a simple issue: that file sharing is "inflicting catastrophic, multibillion-dollar harm," according to an entertainment industry petition filed with the Supreme Court.

The music industry, for example, blames file sharing for a 21 percent drop in CD shipments from 1999 to 2004, although there was a slight rebound last year.

On the Grokster side are technology and consumer electronics giants like Santa Clara's Intel Corp., who say the case goes beyond file sharing. They argue that the entertainment industries, in their rush to protect their profits, could stifle the development of new technology, turn current products -- like the iPod -- into an illegal device, trample economic growth and impede free speech on the Internet.

Caught in the middle are average people like Alameda's Barry Wolfe, a new user of LimeWire -- one of the more popular file-sharing programs -- who said this technology is feeding his lifelong passion for music, especially in helping him find eclectic or hard-to-get songs.

It's also helping Wolfe fill his iPod.

"I'm a music addict,'' said Wolfe, 55. "I love music; I always have, since I was a kid. Almost anything I have ever looked for on LimeWire, I have been able to find. I was downloading weird things like a live Quicksilver Messenger Service concert at the Fillmore.''

Covered by Betamax

When U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that file-sharing programs fell under the same copyright law protections afforded by the Supreme Court's landmark 1984 Sony Betamax decision, it shocked the entire entertainment industry. (The Betamax case allowed Sony Corp. to sell its home video tape recorders over Hollywood's objections that the technology could illegally copy movies.)

Wilson's ruling, upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco in 2004, was an especially huge blow to the music industry, which hoped to shut down the companies that distributed those programs the way it forced Napster to shut its computer servers down.

Napster, a program written by then 19-year-old college student Shawn Fanning, created a worldwide network of users who could swap and share billions of free MP3 songs. Napster's legal downfall came because the company provided computer servers that processed song searches.

However, its successors, Kazaa, Morpheus and Grokster, did not rely on any company-controlled central servers, but instead used a dispersed network of computers. That provided the companies behind the software -- Sharman Networks, StreamCast Networks and Grokster -- a legal defense: Like Microsoft, they only distributed the software, but had no control over what people used it for.

Wilson agreed, and the ruling forced the record labels -- led by the Recording Industry Association of America -- to switch to the controversial tactic of suing individual file sharers. To date, the industry trade group has filed lawsuits against 9,900 individuals.

The Motion Picture Association of America, which also warned that file sharing was the greatest threat to the industry, in November began suing individual file sharers who are offering even just one movie for others to copy.

But in a brief filed with the Supreme Court, the entertainment industries said their losses from file sharing "cannot be redressed through lawsuits against the millions of direct infringers using those services.''

Indeed, despite the headline-grabbing lawsuits and the mainstream marketing blitz of record-industry-licensed online services such as the new Napster and Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store, various studies show file sharing is more popular than ever and continues to grow.

"The trend is still ticking upwards,'' said Eric Garland, chief executive officer of BigChampagne.com, a Beverly Hills consulting firm that specializes in tracking the use of peer-to-peer networks on the Internet. "File sharing is unquestionably here to stay.''

According to BigChampagne, the average number of users simultaneously logged on to file-sharing networks was about 4.3 million in September 2003, the month the recording industry's lawsuits began snaring individuals ranging from a 12-year-old girl to a 65-year-old grandmother.

A month later, that average number jumped to more than 6 million. Although there have been ebbs and flows since, BigChampagne logged an average of 8.5 million file-sharing users in February 2005.

Moving target

Complicating matters, the Internet is moving so quickly that the case now before the Supreme Court centers on programs that are no longer the most widely used.

Instead, a new generation of file-sharing platforms called eDonkey and BitTorrent have emerged as the front-runners, according to BayTSP, a Los Gatos company that is helping the entertainment industry track down people illegally sharing songs and movies.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling before its summer break at the end of June, although it could be later than that. Win or lose, the record industry is ironically counting on two former nemeses, Fanning and former Grokster President Wayne Rosso, to help turn the tide from illegal to legal file sharing.

Both now head new companies hoping to create record-industry-approved file-sharing services.

Fanning is now the chief strategy officer and the co-founder of Snocap Inc., a San Francisco-based company designing licensing and copyright managing services.

Rosso, meanwhile, is the chief executive of MashBoxx, a Virginia firm that plans to use Snocap services for a new file-sharing network to be launched later this year.

Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said he hopes existing file-sharing companies also turn to the Snocap and MashBoxx model.

"When the story is written, either at the end of this year or in a couple of years, Shawn Fanning will be the bookend of the story,'' Bainwol said.

"He will have helped identify the challenge, maybe even launched the challenge, and he will have helped launch and symbolize the solution to the challenge.''

To hear the stories behind the stories, check out the podcasts at sfchroniclebiz.blogspot.com

E-mail Benny Evangelista at bevangelista@sfchronicle.com

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