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Retailers wary of U. intentions

(12/06/00 10:00am)

Most students probably see 40th Street, the westernmost border of Penn's campus, as nothing more than a good place for a Sunday morning bagel. But for the high rollers of Penn real estate, 40th Street is the final frontier. "I really believe the leaders of Penn see 40th Street as a place where the community comes together, where students and employees and residents of this part of University City can meet," University City District Executive Director Paul Steinke said. But as Penn moves into the 40th Street corridor in the name of retail and revitalization, many local business owners fear a University monopoly on the area.

Judge releases papers related to Schieber case

(11/30/00 10:00am)

A federal judge released several crucial transcripts and expert testimonies this week related to a civil lawsuit against the city over the 1998 murder of Wharton doctoral student Shannon Schieber. The opposing testimonies, which debate the exact time of death, may be critical to the outcome of the lawsuit filed against by Schieber's parents. The suit claims that two Philadelphia police officers failed to prevent the 23-year-old's death by not investigating sufficiently when they were called to the scene by a neighbor who heard screams. The Schieber family filed the suit in October of 1998 -- almost six months after their daughter was strangled to death in her home in Rittenhouse Square by the man known as the "Center City rapist." Police believe Schieber's murderer -- who remains at large -- entered her second-floor apartment at 23rd and Spruce streets through an unlocked balcony door. Schieber confronted her attacker, trying to fend him off. Her brother found her body the next afternoon when he went to check on her after she didn't show up to have lunch with him as planned. According to a 911 transcript, a little after 2 a.m. on May 7, 1998, Schieber's neighbor, Parmatma Greeley, called the Philadelphia Police Department claiming he heard screams coming from Schieber's apartment. "I just heard... her yell for help. I knocked on the door and I just heard... like a choking type sound," Greeley told the operator. Officers Steve Woods and Raymond Scherff were then sent to investigate a "woman screaming" at 251 S. 23rd Street. After spending five minutes at the scene with no probable cause to enter the apartment -- Greeley himself said that perhaps the sounds he had heard had come from outside -- the officers radioed back to headquarters that the report was unfounded. The officers say they knocked on the door, but took no further action after hearing no response. To determine whether Woods and Scherff left Schieber's apartment prematurely, both sides hired medical experts to recreate the last moments of Shannon's life. The experts differed in opinion. In his testimony, Michael Baden -- who was hired by Schieber's parents -- said Greeley probably heard Schieber being gagged, as indicated by marks around her mouth. He added that she could have been alive until about 3 a.m. -- more than half an hour after the police left the scene. Vincent DiMaio, who was hired by the city, testified that there was no evidence Schieber was gagged. He said that about 15 seconds after her killer started to choke her she would have been unconscious, and in approximately five minutes she would have been dead. Schieber's father Sylvester was pleased that the federal judge unsealed the documents. "Part of what we've been pursuing is our own discovery of what happened. We're encouraged by openness," he said. But Sylvester and his wife remain frustrated by both the lawsuit and the criminal investigation. "We filed the suit in October of 1998, and we still don't know when the trial is," he said, referring to numerous pretrial conferences and hearings scheduled until December 14. "It's a pity [the police] didn't arrest [Schieber's killer] the night he killed Shannon," he said. "We would like to see her killer incarcerated," he continued, adding that only when that happens will "women at Penn and in Philadelphia feel more secure." While the Philadelphia Police Department has still not apprehended anyone for the murder, the more than two-year-long investigation continues. The case has even been featured on America's Most Wanted. But the only break, so far, came last year when DNA tests linked Schieber's killer to at least five Center City rapes. All of the victims were in their early 20s and lived near each other. Lt. Joseph Maum of the PPD's Homicide Division said, "We're still getting tips, and we're tracking each one."

Math prof. comments on Fla. recounts

(11/22/00 10:00am)

While the battle for the presidency rages on, Penn professors in departments ranging from English to Electrical Engineering have introduced the topic into class discussion. And Mathematics Department Chairman Dennis DeTurck is going a step further, releasing this week a statistical analysis of the ongoing ballot-counting process. And according to his findings, maximum accuracy can be obtained by counting the Florida ballots roughly 16 times, with each of the results then being averaged. DeTurck's analysis stems from the slim margin between the two candidates, just 930 votes according to the last official count. The idea for the study came to DeTurck through teaching his Mathematics 170 course, "Ideas in Mathematics." "As part of the class, we were talking about issues exactly like this one. How do you count 6 million votes?" DeTurck said. "And how do you measure something with... precision?" In fact, DeTurck said he was "surprised that no one else seems to have done this sort of computation." "In the end, there are a lot of statistical ways to approach the issue," he said, adding that statistical accuracy can only be obtained through numerous recounts. "You have to [count the ballots] a lot of times," he said. "You can't just do it once, but over and over again." According to DeTurck, his suggested 16 recounts could provide 95 percent certainty of the results, but he admitted that "no one would agree," to counting the ballots that many times. He also noted that most ballots would probably not stand up to the kind of wear and tear that would come with numerous recounts. The issue of manual recounts -- which are considered essential if Gore is to have any chance of winning the election -- went before the Supreme Court of Florida on Monday. Last night, the Court ruled that manual recounts may continue in Florida until Sunday or Monday, when state officials must finally certify the result of the November 7 presidential election. The manual recount in Florida is just one of many issues that DeTurck says will "make the country rethink the way votes are cast and recounted." He believes the solution to these problems lies in electronics, with computers aiding in the process "without opening it up to tampering." "A computer can come back and tell you who you voted for, and ask you if you're sure you voted correctly, the same way Microsoft Word asks you if you're sure you want to close a document." he said. He added that the Internet would not even need to enter into the process. In addition, he said, the use of computers would not be "an expensive proposition." "This election has gone to show us we should invest in something like that," DeTurck said.

UPPD officers file complaint over required new fitness test

(11/10/00 10:00am)

University Police officers filed a complaint against Penn's Police Department last month after University Police Chief Maureen Rush instituted a mandatory physical fitness test for all officers. The officers, who are organized under Lodge No. 113 in the Fraternal Order of Police, claim the test involves unfair labor practice under the National Labor Relations Act. Held at Hutchinson Gymnasium, the test required officers to complete a series of physical endurance courses simulating a chase and arrest, in addition to a body fat analysis. Officers who fail the test are required to be re-tested at three month intervals until they pass. If officers continue to fail the test after a year, they may be disciplined. Rush sent two memos in July and September to the department regarding the test, saying that the physical fitness program had been mandated by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, under which the UPPD is still seeking accreditation. The officers' attorneys claim, though, that their clients are not upset about taking the physical fitness test, but rather because Rush never discussed the matter with the FOP. Attorney Eric Stoltenberg said the program "constitutes an implementation of a new term of employment... carrying the potential for discipline." He added, "The employer in this case is required by law to bargain or negotiate with the union before implementing that kind of requirement," which the complaint alleges Rush did not do. Accompanying the mandatory test was a voluntary testing program, with which the officers take issue because they claim it would entitle participants to "extra considerations/benefits in employment matters." While Rush did meet with two officers from the FOP to discuss standards for the annual test back in August, the lodge claims the two officers were not authorized to represent the group. The complaint says Kathleen O'Neill, of Philadelphia's chapter of the National Labor Relations Board, advised the officers' attorneys that the matter could best be resolved under departmental contractual grievance procedures. The officers had originally wanted to bring the complaint before the NLRB. The FOP also petitioned for an injunction to postpone the fitness test, but that was denied, allowing the test to take place as scheduled on October 16. The complaint cites potential for injury to occur during the test, adding the issue of disability benefits to the mix. Rush's memo maintained, though, that any injuries acquired during the testing program would qualify officers for standard Worker's Compensation benefits. Stoltenberg could not comment on whether his clients actually participated in the program. "There is a grievance process that is currently in effect that we are looking at," Deputy Chief of Operations Mike Fink said, who declined to make any additional comments with an arbitration hearing pending.

Area's incumbent congressman celebrates easy win

(11/08/00 10:00am)

Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah was celebrating his re-election last night, even though the victory came as no surprise. The congressman, who has represented the district that includes the University in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1994, felt confident enough in his assured victory to show up an hour late for his Center City celebration. Fattah's only opponent was Libertarian candidate Kenneth Krawchuck, whose presence in the race left Fattah basically unopposed. Fattah celebrated with other Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Democrats at the Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel last night, moving between his own private suites and the larger gala in one of the hotel's main ballrooms. "I am pleased to have an opportunity to go to Washington again," Fattah said. Although his win was expected, Fattah emphatically said, "I feel great!" This was not only in reference to his own triumph, but also to Gore's capture of Pennsylvania. "It's just a major victory," he said. "Gore depended on winning our state." "[Gore's] system of reform in education... has really created synergy amongst the voters," Fattah added. He could not overemphasize the importance of young voters in this election. "The party seems to have two out of three of the young voters," he said. Fattah attended Wharton and received his Master's degree from the Fel's Center of Government. Amongst campaign volunteers, Fattah's victory lacked individual importance, being primarily valued as part of what volunteers hoped would be a Democratic sweep. Campaign volunteer Charles Simmons said, "The education programs [Fattah] is working on will be successful, not only in Pennsylvania, but in the United States on the whole." However another volunteer was not so enthusiastic about Fattah. "He has a certain aloofness for a politician, which I do not like," said the volunteer, who asked to remain anonymous. But he added, "I believe there is a need for solidarity on issues such as the nation's youth, education and women's rights." He added that he believes Fattah provides that common ground. Penn students attending the function agreed that Fattah was a key Democrat in Pennsylvania. "Fattah is effectively bringing Democratic ideals and principles to Pennsylvania." College junior Blake Megdal said. College sophomore Jeffrey Millman agreed. "Fattah was really upbeat about the Democratic ticket, and always had faith in it." There were nearly 6,000 volunteers throughout the state, for the Pennsylvania Democratic Campaign -- including 3,000 from the Philadelphia area.

Experimenter's lecture sparks ex-inmate rally

(11/03/00 10:00am)

Former inmates of Philadelphia's Holmesburg Prison found their way yesterday morning to the University's Biomedical Research Building II in protest of Dermatology Professor Emeritus Albert Kligman, who they say conducted dangerous medical experiments on them during their time behind bars. Protesters, who objected to the University's choice of Kligman to be a speaker in its Samitz Lecture Series, readily showed their scars to both onlookers and those attending the lecture. The demonstration comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed at the end of October against the University and Kligman, among others, on behalf of 298 former inmates of the now-closed Holmesburg Prison. The lawsuit alleges that Kligman exposed inmates to harmful chemicals such as radioactive isotopes and dioxin without proper consent during clinical trials performed in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Results from the Penn-sponsored research were allegedly used to develop cosmetic products for companies such as Johnson and Johnson and Dow Chemical, who are both also named in the suit. The experiments led to the invention of the popular skin medication Retin-A. These medical experiments, the prisoners claim, have left them scarred -- both physically and mentally -- and they are asking for compensation and a sincere apology. Roughly 20 protesters came, bearing a bullhorn and signs, calling the University the "Frankenstein of medical research" and asking repeatedly why Kligman was being honored with the lecture. Many protesters also shared various horror stories about their time in incarceration. Edward Anthony, who was in Holmesburg from 1964 to 1966, said he was used in tests for Jonson and Johnson bubble bath. He claims experimenters would make his skin unbearably raw and then spray it with chemicals such as benzoid to test his reaction. "[My skin] became so raw I could hardly walk," Anthony said. Any maladies that resulted from the tests were treated, but Anthony added, "the medicines, instead of making me better, made me worse." Anthony pointed to other test subjects with similar or more serious problems, such as a friend he claims needed seven feet of his intestines removed due to problems incurred by a test for diet pills. Anthony said prisoners were lured to participate in clinical trials by money they could use to buy cigarettes and other items from the prison commissary. "It was very easy for us to see Kligman as Santa Claus, or God," he said. Another inmate, James Michael Warren, was in and out of Holmesburg throughout the 1970s, and echoed Anthony's claims. Warren said he can't have children thanks to the experiments in which he participated, and to this day is afraid of doctors and hospitals -- in particular Penn's hospital. Of Kligman, Warren said, "He did me a terrible injustice." Both prisoners also claim they are infected with Hepatitis C for Kligman's experiments. According to Anthony, what the protesters want is "for this prestigious hospital to give us some kind of care after what they did to us." Added former inmate Abdal Ali: "If anyone was marred or disfigured by something a doctor does, than that doctor should not be honored." Kligman's presentation was an invitation-only event, but the University of Pennsylvania Health System issued a statement regarding the lawsuit. "During the 1950s and 1960s, the use of willing, compensated prisoners for biomedical research was a commonly accepted practice by this nation's scientists," the statement said. But it added that such behavior is no longer appropriate, and that the University holds strict policies about using human test subjects in research. University officials would not comment, however, as to why Kligman was chosen for the Samitz Lecture Series or about the nature of his presentation.

Napster prepares to charge for its service

(11/03/00 10:00am)

A new alliance between Napster and a German media conglomerate has left students asking not whether Napster will continue to provide its services, but rather whether they will have to pay to use the site. German media group Bertelsmann AG announced Tuesday that it has dropped its lawsuit against the online music-sharing service and instead will work with the company to produce a new site that collects dues from members, passing on the royalties to artists and record labels. Napster, which makes it possible for millions of users to share and download music files for free, has been under legal fire from the recording industry for the past year. Four other major record labels and two artists -- heavy metal band Metallica and rapper Dr. Dre -- have filed a lawsuit against Napster for copyright infringement. In July, a federal judge sided with the recording industry and granted a preliminary injunction shutting down Napster. But an appeals court two days later stayed the injunction, and the decision to reinstate the injunction pending trial is before an appeals panel now. The alliance with Bertelsmann means that the site will charge its 38 million users a monthly fee, expected to be about $4.95. Napster also hopes to maintain a free, promotional component on the site. In addition to the fee, Napster will also provide links to CDNow, where users can purchase compact discs they sample on Napster. CDNow recently merged with Bertelsmann's eCommerce Group. Penn students think the new Napster, which will not go into effect for some time, will not do much to stop people from downloading music files for free. "I think that [Napster] has a right to charge for their service, and I think people will be willing to pay, but they can still get [music] for free, so I don't think it will be as effective as they want it to be," College sophomore Tom Buddensick said. College freshman Chris Bisoni, when asked if he would continue to use Napster, replied, "If that were the only alternative, yes, but it doesn't make sense since it's been free until now." Even if Napster begins to charge a fee, other music sharing sites -- like Gnutella and Freenet, which do not have a centralized server that could easily be shut down -- will still offer file sharing for free. "Why would I pay for Napster when FTP files have been around forever?" College sophomore Melinda Gordon asked. "Who are they kidding?" Bertelsmann Chairman and CEO Thomas Middelhoff said the company dropped the lawsuit and adopted the new plan keeping in mind the fact that the music industry can't stop the Internet from changing the business dramatically. "This is a call for the industry to wake up," Middelhoff told the New York Times. "It is not enough to fight file sharing in the courtroom." Media experts believe that Bertelsmann's deal provides a win-win situation for the entertainment conglomerate. Whether or not Napster wins the pending lawsuit, Bertelsmann comes out making money. The other record companies are still pursuing their lawsuit, although their representatives have noted they welcome any changes Napster is making to create a legitimate service. Officials from the Recording Industry Association of America -- which represents the record labels suing Napster -- pointed out that the alliance was unexpected since Napster has maintained it does not have the capabilities to monitor individual users throughout court proceedings.

Rendell bus tour kicks off in Phila.

(11/01/00 10:00am)

Democratic Party chief Ed Rendell and U.S. Senate candidate Ron Klink hit Philly yesterday to show their support for the Gore-Lieberman campaign -- and to do some campaigning of their own. Rendell, the popular former mayor of Philadelphia, and Klink, a U.S. congressman trying to unseat Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, were on a last-minute get-out-the-vote mission called the Seven Days -- Seven Reasons Express Tour. Joined by U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Texas State Rep. Garnet Coleman, they began the tour at the University of Pennsylvania Health System's Grays Ferry Medical Practice. Rendell will be stopping in cities throughout Pennsylvania from now until next Tuesday, joined by a host of political celebrities such as Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and several elected officials, to discuss pertinent election issues and to help drum up essential support for Gore and Klink, who is running well behind Santorum in both fundraising and polls. And the visit will also help Rendell, a Penn alum, gain name recognition as he gears up for a gubernatorial run in 2002. "We are aware that Pennsylvania is up for grabs," Rendell said, noting that it is one of the crucial battleground states in this year's presidential election, with both candidates actively fighting for its 23 electoral votes. A poll released yesterday by Millersville University showed the race in the state to be a statistical dead heat, with Texas Gov. George W. Bush at 43 percent and Vice President Gore with 42 percent. Nine percent remain undecided. On the docket yesterday was the Patient's Bill of Rights, which Dingell co-authored and fought to pass. The bill seeks to protect doctors and patients under the HMO system, in particular by giving them the right to sue an HMO -- a right which currently does not exist. "The Patient's Bill of Rights is a bipartisan issue," Dingell said to the crowd of about 30 self-proclaimed Gore/Klink supporters. "Politics should be about serving the public and telling the truth." Dingell also pointed out that the Patient's Bill of Rights lost in the Senate by only one vote -- and that one of those voting against it was the conservative Santorum, who has sought during his campaign to move away from the firebrand conservative image that propelled him to office in the Republican landslide of 1994. Klink agreed Americans should have a way to blow the whistle on the HMOs. "We have it in the nuclear industry, we need it in the medical industry," he pointed out. Klink supports an individual's right to sue an HMO because without that right, he says, "It is a patient's bill of suggestions." "If Ron Klink was in [the] U.S. Senate and Rick Santorum was back home, Al Gore would have cast the deciding vote, President Clinton would have signed [the bill]," Klink said. Coleman, a Texas legislator who has served with Bush, claimed that Bush would not support the Patient's Bill of Rights because "his friends, the insurance companies" would not want him to pass that kind of legislation. Rendell, who spent much of his speech promoting Gore, also took a moment to address the role of Green Party nominee Ralph Nader. "Ralph Nader won't become the next president," Rendell said. "And the premise of his campaign [that there is no difference between Bush and Gore] is silly." Rendell said Nader voters need to realize that there's a difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates. "If you're an environmentalist ... or if you're a woman who believes in the right to choose," then there's a big difference between Bush and Gore, Rendell said.

Former inmates sue Penn over experiments

(10/20/00 9:00am)

Nearly three decades after participating in a series of University-run experiments to test the efficiency of skin-care drugs, 298 former prison inmates are suing Penn for exposing them to infectious diseases. Lawyers for the men who were once incarcerated in the city's Holmesburg prison filed a lawsuit against the University, Dermatology Emeritus Professor Albert Kligman, the City of Philadelphia and drug companies Johnson and Johnson and Dow Chemical Company. The lawsuit, which is asking for in excess of $50,000 from each defendant, claims that between 1951 and 1974 inmates were asked to participate in experiments during which they were exposed to infectious diseases, radioactive isotopes and psychotropic drugs such as LSD without having given informed consent. Controversy has surrounded the experiments ever since Allen Hornblum -- now a professor at Temple University -- brought the issue to light in his 1998 book Acres of Skin, which details his experiences at Holmesburg. Penn officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment yesterday. Thomas Nocella, who is representing the inmates, said Penn has so far "stonewalled" in responding to the suit. Since the publication of Hornblum's book, Penn has faced numerous protests from former prisoners, and has also battled in court with Kligman, who led the studies at the prison which led to the production of the drug Retin-A, a popular prescription skin-care drug. Both Johnson and Johnson and Dow Chemical Company admitted they had tested products on Holmesburg prisoners. But Johnson and Johnson went on to say that none of the chemicals cited in the lawsuit were ever used in the company's products. A spokesman from Dow Chemical Company said that the corporation initially had an agreement with Kligman to conduct skin contact studies, authorizing him to do low-level testing at Holmesburg. Dow said it severed its relationship with Kligman when he "deviated from protocol and radically increased dosages" used with inmates. "Looking back would similar tests be done using the prison population?" Dow's spokeswoman asked. "Absolutely not." Nocella claims that Kligman administered doses up to "700 times greater" than those outlined in protocol. But he also blames Dow for its inability to supervise the tests. "Dow got all the benefits from the testing, and then complained," he said. "They weren't trying to cure any diseases, they just wanted money." Nocella feels Penn acted the same way, especially in regard to Retin-A, by keeping the results and profiting. Although participating inmates did sign waivers before tests began, Nocella claims the waivers were blank and that prisoners were coerced to sign. "[The defendants] made it appear as a privilege" to take part in the experiments, he said. For prisoners desperate for money, the pay they received was sufficient enough to warrant physical injury. Inmates complain of both external and internal injuries, including burns and scarring as well as damage to the stomach and intestines. "There are some really horrific stories," Nocella said. And yet, he added, all his clients are asking for "is a sincere apology," even though they don't find it likely that they will receive one. "All they're asking for is an acknowledgement that a mistake was made," he said. "Today, more consideration is being given for lab mice and rats than was given by Penn for human beings 30 years ago," he said.

Vigil highlights Mideast violence

(10/09/00 9:00am)

As the bloody violence in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians rapidly escalates, students have begun addressing these political issues here on campus. The Penn Arab Student Society held a vigil Friday afternoon in front of Van Pelt Library focusing on the anger of the last two weeks that so far have claimed 84 lives, mostly Palestinian. Engineering sophomore Rashid Tuweiq said the vigil was meant to "look at how confrontation happened." "These are people who have died, and people are speaking out about it," he said. But PENNPac, the student Israeli lobby, also made their presence known during the event. The group passed out information about the conflict in Israel and the representation of the Israeli government by the media, saying they wanted to present both perspectives on the violence. Organizers for PENNPac, who would not speak for attribution, said they had suggested having a joint vigil with PASS since they also wanted to mourn those who were killed during the conflict. But PASS apparently refused the offer, with organizers saying they wanted the event to focus on the Palestinian victims. And other participants were outraged that PASS posted signs proclaiming that "[Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Barak is a killer," a statement they feel is not only very political, but offensive. But PASS said they just wanted to voice their opinions. "We hope to send a message to the whole community and inform people by giving an example," Wharton sophomore Ahmed Al-Hammadi said. For the last 11 days warfare has overwhelmed Gaza and the West Bank. The violence started after Israeli ultranationalist Ariel Sharon demonstrated at Jerusalem's Temple Mount -- a sacred shrine to both Muslims and Jews. This act set off some of the worst protests and riots in recent years, with the entire Mideast peace process now on the brink of collapse and the region close to all-out war. On Friday, though many students passed by the vigil, organizers estimated that roughly 50 people actually stayed to hear what PASS members had to say. And many of these opinions sparked numerous debates amongst PASS and PENNPac. Topics ranged from how to effectively stop the rioting in the Middle East to the rights each party has to their own country, and what role religion plays in all of this. Tuweiq maintained that the vigil was "not political, but humanitarian," though he admitted that at times it "inevitably turned political." One other point of contention between the two groups was that PASS's timing for the vigil coincided with Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. While PASS recognized this concern, they claimed no disrespect was intended. "The timing of our vigil is meant... to juxtapose the religious commitment to repentance and peace in the Jewish community against the political inclination towards violence in the Jewish state," PASS's official statement said. "However, being that Yom Kippur is among the most revered days for the Jewish community, we have to be sensitive to the fact that this is a religious holiday," it went on to say. This is the reason why, PASS said, it decided to hold the vigil on Friday as opposed to today.

Penn won't ban access to Napster

(09/27/00 9:00am)

University President Judith Rodin sent a letter yesterday to the attorney for heavy metal band Metallica and rapper Dr. Dre announcing that she will not ban access to Napster on campus. In the letter, Rodin explained that banning the Internet service would go against the University's educational mission by denying students freedom of inquiry and expression. "We find your request troubling because it asks us to impose a blanket ban on access not simply to specific unlawful material, but to a tool that facilitates access to a broad range of materials," Rodin's letter reads. Instead of banning the service, Rodin wrote that Penn will attempt to educate students, faculty and staff about the laws and school policy regarding copyright infringement, such as computer ethics training given to the Class of 2004 this year during New Student Orientation. Howard King, the attorney representing Metallica and Dr. Dre, said he was "obviously disappointed, but not shocked" at the decision, and that he did not expect to be filing a lawsuit against Penn or the other schools who rejected his request. Rodin received a letter earlier this month from King asking the University to consider forbidding student access to the Internet site. Penn was among 29 prominent schools who received the letter. At least 11 of those schools, including Penn, have refused to do so. Metallica and Dre have said that the service Napster provides -- allowing users to download music files for free -- constitutes serious copyright infringement. Furthermore, they feel universities are hot beds of Napster usage due to the high speed Internet connections they provide for their students. But Penn's letter claims that, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- which stipulates that Internet service providers cannot be held accountable for illegal activity on their networks if they are unaware of the activity -- limiting Napster is not Rodin's responsibility. "Our policies prohibit the use of the University's electronic resources to intentionally infringe intellectual property rights, and the University investigates and takes appropriate action when allegations of specific infringement are brought to our attention," the letter states. King said that this is not the end to the matter. "We hope to be maintaining a dialogue with the University, and hopefully they will see things our way," King said. King added that his clients do not understand why Penn is ignoring the issue of copyright infringement. "If the issue was child pornography, the University would certainly take steps there," King said. "The University has an obligation [to ban Napster]... not just legally, but morally and ethically," he added. The first three schools to receive a letter from King were the University of Southern California, and Indiana and Yale universities last spring. When they did not agree to the letter's request, a lawsuit was filed against them by Metallica and Dre. The lawsuit was dropped after each school instituted policies limiting Napster use on their campuses, but many were left wondering if the artists' attorneys would use the threat of a lawsuit to sway the universities they contacted this month. King, however, tried to put a rest to this concern. Although he said his office will be responding to the University's decision in some way, he assured that "no one is getting sued next week." At the moment, "We don't have a big enough stick to shake" at an institution like Penn, King said.

Schools differ on Napster

(09/26/00 9:00am)

Out of 29 universities across the country who have been asked to ban the Internet music site Napster on their campuses, Penn is one of only four who have not yet responded to the request. At least 10 schools -- including Stanford and Princeton universities, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, the University of Florida and the University of California at Los Angeles and Berkeley -- have refused the artists' demand. But Penn, as well as Boston, Columbia and Harvard universities, have all remained silent about what their decision will be. According to University spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman, Penn's official decision will be announced "any day now," and Harvard is expected to reply by tomorrow. Penn officials have said they would be uncomfortable banning Napster until a lawsuit against it is resolved by the courts. An attorney representing Metallica and Dr. Dre, longtime opponents of the program that allows users to download copyrighted music files for free, sent 29 schools a letter two weeks ago asking that they voluntarily ban Napster from their servers. Many in the music industry feel the service constitutes serious copyright infringement, and that universities are a hot-bed of Napster usage. The University of Southern California and Indiana and Yale universities were the first schools to receive letters from the administration. They at first refused to comply, but after a lawsuit was filed against them last year, each began to limit access to Napster on its campus. Penn State had been rumored to have banned Napster last week, but officials said the rumor was not true. According to Penn State spokesman Stephen MacCarthy, the university did not restrict Napster access, but sent an e-mail reminding students of copyright laws. In response, over 200 students e-mailed the university to complain. Even though Penn State did not ban Napster, MacCarthy said officials there still "believe that [they] are in complete compliance" with what Metallica and Dre asked them to do. "Our students need to be able to access a wide range of sites," MacCarthy said, "but it's not our business as long as it's legal." Princeton officials, on the other hand, said they will not interfere with what students do online until they do something illegal. Princeton spokeswoman Marylin Markas said, "Princeton feels that students and faculty members should be able to use all services available to them within the limits of the law." And since the matter of whether or not Napster is legal is still under consideration by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, it is still within those limits. Both Penn State and Princeton say that their computer networking policies do not go against the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was instituted in 1998 to apply copyright laws to new technologies. The Act says that Internet service providers are not responsible when copyright infringement occurs on their networks, as long as they are unaware of such activity. Napster opponents, however, claim that universities are aware of copyright infringement problems.

Copyright violations may draw action

(09/26/00 9:00am)

In the tangled web woven by Napster's legal problems, individual users of the service have yet to be charged with violating copyright infringement. But with the lawsuit against the program bogged down in a federal appellate court, it is still unclear whether downloading a commercially available song from Napster can be regarded as copyright infringement. Earlier this month at Oklahoma State University's Stillwater campus, one student's computer was confiscated after university officials were alerted to possible illegal activities. Oklahoma State received a fax from the Recording Industry Association of America -- who have also filed a lawsuit against Napster -- saying that someone on its network was transferring massive amounts of copyrighted files. A search warrant was issued by Payne County, Okla., allowing officials to confiscate the student's computer and search the hard drive. The student allegedly maintained his own Web site with access to over 10,000 copyrighted media files. Not all of the files, though, were MP3s or from Napster. The student has not been arrested, but is at the center of an ongoing investigation. Nestor Gonzales, a spokesman for the school, said he feels the student has thus far been dealt with appropriately. "As network providers, the university has to take some action," Gonzales said. But he added that they "don't just sit around policing." Oklahoma State "has been waiting to see what the courts decide" in the case before taking their own disciplinary action. The student could face anything from misdemeanor to felony charges for copyright infringement. The arrest comes at a time when several prominent universities, including Penn, are deciding whether they will allow Napster use on their campuses. An attorney for musicians Metallica and Dr. Dre sent letters to 29 schools this month requesting that they ban the Internet music service. According to David Millar, Penn's own security officer for data administration, the steps taken against the Oklahoma State student are rather surprising. "Confiscating student computers for copyright infringement is pretty unusual," Millar said in an e-mail statement. He said Penn, and most other universities, probably would have dealt with the issue differently. "I think we're fairly typical of most of our peers in how we handle claims of copyright infringement," Millar said. Penn policy mandates that when a complaint is filed, the owner of the computer is first notified. If the individual does not remove any infringing material, the network connection is disabled. After the network connection is disabled, Information Systems and Computing would file a complaint against the student with the Office of Student Conduct, who would then be in charge of disciplinary action. Whether complaints will be filed against individuals who use Napster is still up in the air at most schools, since the legality of Napster is still unclear. Only after the courts determine if Napster is legal can other parties be dragged into the fray. As for the Oklahoma State student, the legal question is not about Napster, but about the student's own copyright infringement and the extent to which he participated in breaking the law.

No decision yet on response to Napster letter

(09/22/00 9:00am)

To ban or not to ban -- that is the question University President Judith Rodin was supposed to have answered by today. But Rodin has not yet made an official decision about whether to ban Napster on Penn's campus. According to University spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman, the evaluation of the matter is still in progress. "We didn't feel we needed to meet that exact deadline," she said. The University received a letter from lawyers representing rap artist Dr. Dre and and rock group Metallica on September 12 asking them to limit student access to the Internet music service Napster. The letter requested a response by today. Yesterday, Pennsylvania State University, which received a letter similar to Penn's last week, announced it will ban student access to Napster through their Web server. And earlier this year, the University of Southern California, and Indiana and Yale universities received similar letters to the one received by Penn. When the three refused to ban the service, the two artists filed a lawsuit against them. Shortly thereafter, the schools settled the suits and limited Napster access on their campuses. But Howard King, attorney for Metallica and Dr. Dre, claimed that the letters his office sent to Penn and other schools this month were never meant to be threats of litigation. Even though Rodin has not made an official decision on Napster use, several Penn professors have been active supporters of the program. Marketing Professor Peter Fader has been an outspoken proponent of Napster throughout the service's various legal squabbles. Fader gave expert testimony on behalf of Napster when it was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America, disputing claims that the service Napster provides constitutes music copyright infringement and hurts record sales. "There's basically a universal finding that use of Napster stimulates [album sales]," Fader said. "People go to Napster and they encounter music that they wouldn't have otherwise, and they want to buy the CD." In addition, Fader points out, the "new artist search function for users interested in learning about new artists... help[s] those artists gain exposure to music listeners." Fader also noted that college students are not the only people who use Napster. "The majority of Napster users are not students," he said. "For a lot of people who don't have a built-in community like college students, they use Napster to find out what music to buy." Stanford Law Professor and Wharton graduate Lawrence Lessig testified on behalf of Napster as well. Napster, he said during his testimony, has "potential uses that extend far beyond this single potentially troubling use [of sharing copyrighted files]. "In extending the ability of Omany' to work with Omany,' the technology is simply an extension of the fundamentally decentralizing principle of the Internet itself," Lessig testified. King said his clients are targeting universities because "there is an irony of having wonderful creative and dramatic arts programs... yet encouraging Napster use, which [if] left unchecked would deprive" students of a chance to make a living in the creative arts in the future.

Experts speculate about potential effects of Gelsinger lawsuit

(09/20/00 9:00am)

The lawsuit filed Monday against the University and members of its Institute for Human Gene Therapy has left many in the fields of health law and medical ethics speculating about its possible outcome. Many experts predicted the process would be drawn out and that the University would continue to maintain that Jesse Gelsinger's death was not a direct result of their researchers' error. Boston University Professor of Health Law and Medicine George Annas went even further, forecasting that "the University will be happy to settle on reasonable terms." The lawsuit is "not anything anyone's proud of," he added. Former Penn Communications Director Ken Wildes -- who is still working with the University on the Gelsinger case -- said that it is not likely any of the defendants will be saying much about the suit any time soon. He added that the time it will take for the matter to be resolved is complicated by the fact that there are so many defendants. The University will be defending itself, its Institute for Human Gene Therapy, former Health System Chief Executive Officer and Medical School Dean William Kelley, bioethicist Arthur Caplan and the researchers who conducted the trials who have remained members of Penn's faculty -- IHGT Director James M. Wilson and Steven Raper. Also named in the suit are the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and former Penn researcher Mark Batshaw -- none of whom are commenting on the lawsuit at this time. According to the lawsuit, CHOP was named because its Institutional Review Board "reviewed and approved protocol for the OTC gene transfer experiment" in which Jesse Gelsinger took part. Alan Milstein, the Gelsingers' attorney, said it is for this reason that CHOP and its IRB are being named in the suit, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration -- which admitted to not properly monitoring the gene therapy trials -- is not. The absence of the FDA's name on the lawsuit was a surprise for many because Jesse Gelsinger's father Paul was an outspoken critic of the FDA from the outset, and had often said he placed the blame for Jesse's death "up and down the line." Milstein said that CHOP's IRB had a greater responsibility to oversee the research than the federal government, and added that CHOP, unlike the FDA, played "some role in the development of the clinical trial." Also a surprise in the suit was the inclusion of Caplan, the director of Penn's Center for Bioethics, among the list of defendants. Caplan's alleged role in Gelsinger's death was that he advised the IHGT to experiment on healthy individuals with only a mild form of OTC -- such as Gelsinger -- as opposed to infants with the more fatal form of the disease. Caplan felt informed consent could not be obtained for the infants, citing clouded judgement on the part of their parents.

Penn hit by gene therapy lawsuit

(09/19/00 9:00am)

The family of Jesse Gelsinger filed a wrongful death suit against the University and others involved with Penn's Institute for Human Gene Therapy yesterday, a year and a day after the teenager died while participating in a Penn gene therapy research program.<P> The <a href="" target="_new"> complaint, </a> filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, claims Gelsinger's death was a direct result of negligence by Penn, IHGT Director James M. Wilson and the two other scientists who ran the experiment in which Gelsinger was enrolled.<P> In addition, the suit alleges that Wilson and then-Health System CEO William Kelley owned several gene therapy patents and stood to gain financially from a successful outcome to the trial, and thus their judgement was compromised. <P> The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., IHGT investor Genovo, Inc. -- founded by Wilson -- and Arthur Caplan, the renowned director of Penn's Center for Bioethics, are also named in the suit.<P> The suit lists six causes for action, including wrongful death, fraud, emotional distress and assault and battery. It asks for $50,000 for each count, as well as punitive damages.<P> Filed on behalf of both Gelsinger's estate and his father, Paul, the suit echoes the violations that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration uncovered last year after a lengthy investigation of the IHGT that ended in a federal suspension of clinical gene therapy trials at Penn and a later decision by the University to end all human testing at the Institute.<P> None of the defendants named in the suit would comment last night, though Penn released a statement defending itself against the "one-sided" lawsuit and expressing sorrow over Gelsinger's death. <P> "Penn has readily acknowledged weaknesses in the IHGT's monitoring and oversight of the clinical trials. At the same time, the University continues to believe that these weaknesses did not contribute to Jesse's death," the statement read.<P> "We continue to regret deeply the death of Jesse Gelsinger and will do everything we can to work with Mr. Gelsinger's lawyer," University President Judith Rodin said last night. <P> Jesse Gelsinger was born with a mild form of ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, or OTC -- a disease which affects the liver's ability to break down ammonia, a by-product of protein digestion. Most OTC sufferers die as infants, but Jesse's disease could be regulated with medication and a low-protein diet.<P> According to the lawsuit, Gelsinger agreed to participate in the gene therapy study at IHGT in the hopes of helping others with more serious forms of OTC, although the treatment would not benefit him personally.<P> On September 13, 1999, the lawsuit claims, Jesse was injected with an experimental vector. Over the next four days, Gelsinger showed increasingly serious symptoms, slipped into a coma and passed away on the afternoon of September 17.<P> One year later, his father is still facing the tragedy. "I experienced the pain on Saturday and for the whole week before that. I relived the whole experience," Paul Gelsinger told the Associated Press yesterday. "This should never have happened."<P> Though Gelsinger had originally defended Penn researchers, the complaint alleges that, while Jesse and Paul were trying to decide whether Jesse was a good candidate for the gene transfer trial, researchers Steven Raper and Mark Batshaw withheld important information about the risks involved in the trials.<P> Raper and Batshaw allegedly failed to mention that other patients in the trials had suffered serious adverse side effects, and that prior to Jesse's enrollment, monkeys injected with the same virus either became ill or died -- suffering many of the same symptoms that affected the 18-year-old during the days following his gene transfer.<P> In the suit, Paul Gelsinger claims he and his son were unaware that vectors had been stored in the lab for 25 months before they were used in animal experiments, which Paul Gelsinger now feels "may have resulted in an underestimation of the vectors' potency" during Jesse's trial.<P> Not only had the vectors in the Gelsinger trial been stored for only two months, the lawsuit alleges, the animals had been given "a dose of vector from 52.2 to 65.3 percent below the vector dose specified for humans."<P> The suit also claims Wilson and his staff were financially motivated in their research.<P> Wilson was the founder of the biotech company Genovo. By 1999, Genovo had agreed to fund the IHGT's research, giving them more than $4 million over five years to conduct genetic research. The University was given shares of the company, and Wilson, Batshaw, Raper and Kelley all owned shares.<P> In return, Genovo was given licenses for any gene therapy technologies developed under Wilson. The lawsuit alleges that this conflict of interest led the researchers to compromise patient safety.<P> In its statement, Penn denied that financial matters played any role in the mistakes that were made.<P> "The University categorically rejects the notion expressed in the complaint that financial gain played any part in any aspect of the OTC trial," it reads.<P> Originally, the study was designed for terminally ill infants with OTC. But according to the lawsuit, Caplan -- considered an authority on bioethics -- said parents of such infants could not give informed consent. Instead, he suggested the research be conducted on healthy adults with only mild forms of OTC, like Jesse.<P> The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is also being held accountable since its Internal Review Board allegedly approved the protocol in the gene transfer experiment.

Threat of costly lawsuit looms

(09/18/00 9:00am)

Since the September 1999 death of Jesse Gelsinger during his participation in a Penn gene therapy trial, all eyes have been on the University and its research practices. But those same eyes have also been on Gelsinger's parents -- and the possibility of a huge lawsuit. Such a suit could have tremendous repercussions for not only Penn's Institute for Human Gene Therapy -- which conducted the clinical trial -- but for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well. The FDA admitted last fall to not enforcing patient-safety monitoring rules for gene therapy researchers, and to having never inspected Penn's lab until after Gelsinger's death. Shortly after his son's death, Paul Gelsinger said he felt blame should be placed mostly on the FDA for their inability to properly monitor gene therapy research at the IHGT. "I told the FDA they had dropped the ball in overseeing Jesse's case," Paul Gelsinger said at a December 1999 National Institutes of Health hearing, while at the same time defending the IHGT. "[The Penn team] has told me everything. I want them to continue their work. That's what Jesse would want." But Paul Gelsinger's support of the IHGT began to waver when the FDA suspended Penn's entire gene therapy program in January, citing 18 violations of federal research protocol. Alan Milstein, Paul Gelsinger's attorney, said, "Many of the observations made by the FDA suggest Jesse should not have taken part in that experiment at that time." He said his client will make a decision on whether to file a suit when all of the information surrounding the case has been received and processed. The most serious of the violations against the Institute's researchers were those regarding patient consent forms and the IHGT's failure to report significant findings to the FDA. Many of the patient consent forms were improperly filled out, sometimes with no witness signature. Some patients were also allowed to take the consent forms home with them, with witnesses signing after the fact. The consent forms themselves failed to mention sizable risks involved in the research, including negative reactions experienced by prior patients and the deaths of two monkeys exposed to a treatment similar to Gelsinger's. And so, when Paul Gelsinger testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee in January, he claimed he and his son had not been aware of the risks involved in the trials. Paul Gelsinger said he was comfortable sending his son to Philadelphia with the information he had at the time. But, he added, "Looking back, I can see that I was fairly naive to have been as trusting as I was." In addition to problems with consent forms, the FDA alleged that Jesse Gelsinger was not eligible to participate in the study due to his blood ammonia levels. While the IHGT claimed that Gelsinger's blood ammonia levels had been acceptable before testing began, the FDA alleged that they had risen and should have been tested again before research could proceed. And in July, the FDA attacked Penn again with a 15-page warning letter claiming the IHGT researchers had used outdated, expired viruses to test the toxicity of material used in their research. Whether all of this information will be enough to win a lawsuit, though, is another matter. Bioethicist and Boston University Professor of Health Law George Annas said, "It's very unusual to see a lawsuit come out of any research program." He went on to say that in the Gelsinger case, it will be difficult to prove that patients were not told of things that did not appear on the consent forms. Annas pointed to a recent article by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala in the American Journal of Medicine which describes this case as very unique. Shalala wrote that the incident caused a complete turn-around in the field of gene therapy, where many more regulatory steps will now be taken -- meaning that the Gelsingers would be more likely to win than most if they filed a lawsuit. After Gelsinger's death, other cases were revealed in which patients had experienced severe negative reactions to treatment or even died, but Annas said only a handful of lawsuits are likely because of the slim chance of successfully suing researchers. The last piece of the responsibility puzzle rests with the organizations that fund gene therapy research. Anne Thomas of the National Institutes of Health, which funds gene therapy research projects, said that organizations like hers cannot be held accountable for what goes on during research. What the NIH required were "adverse events reports" if something serious occurred in a gene therapy program, but these were not supplied to the NIH by the FDA before or after Gelsinger's death. Annas agreed that funding agencies can only be held accountable if they know in advance that on-going research is unlawful. For this reason, IHGT Director James M. Wilson's private company Genovo -- which provided 20 percent of IHGT's funding but has since been bought out by Targeted Genetics Corporation -- will probably also be blame-free in the event of a lawsuit. University General Counsel Peter Erichsen said he could not speculate about the possibility of a lawsuit from the Gelsingers.

Rodin says U. is considering Napster request

(09/14/00 9:00am)

University President Judith Rodin said last night she will not make a hasty decision as to whether Penn will continue to allow access to Napster, the controversial computer program that allows users to download copyrighted music. A decision has not yet been made according to Rodin, who added that it would be premature to decide on a course of action before current legal issues are resolved. "Obviously, we will have to make a decision based on the merits of the issues," Rodin said. Rodin received a letter on Tuesday from attorneys representing heavy-metal band Metallica and rapper Dr. Dre asking the University to restrict students from using Napster, which the musicians believe is illegal. Napster was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America, which represents several major record labels, last December. RIAA, as well as many other Napster opponents including Metallica and Dr. Dre, feel the services provided by Napster constitute serious copyright infringement. Penn is just one of several big name universities across the country who received a letter from the musicians, whose lawyer said they are targeting colleges because schools are "a hot bed of Napster usage." The musicians also sent a similar letter to the University of Southern California and Indiana and Yale universities earlier this year, and proceeded to sue those schools after they did not comply. The lawsuits have since been settled and all three schools have limited Napster use on their campuses. Rodin said there are many "competing values" surrounding the issue, such as the importance of intellectual property versus free speech, and the legal questions posed with the rapid development of new technologies. Polk Wagner, a Law professor at Penn's Law School and an expert in electronic commerce, said there is no reason to block student Internet access. "It's a bad idea for the University to be in the business of limiting the range of options available over the 'Net," Wagner said. He added that it is "no more [appropriate] than it would be to say we can't use telephones because we could do something illegal or improper over the telephone." Wagner pointed out that Napster is still a legal site thanks to an appeal the company won allowing them to remain available until a verdict could be reached in various lawsuits filed against them. The musicians' attorney, Howard King, said on Tuesday that the letter -- sent with a copy of the lawsuit filed against USC, Indiana and Yale and the lawsuit filed against Napster -- was not meant as a threat of litigation.

Singers ask Penn to silence Napster

(09/13/00 9:00am)

Penn yesterday became the latest on a long list of universities that have been dragged into the controversy surrounding the Internet music site Napster.<P> Attorneys for the heavy metal band Metallica and rap artist Dr. Dre sent a letter to University President Judith Rodin requesting that the University ban access through its Internet service to Napster. The artists have been vocal critics of Napster, a service that allows its users to share downloadable music files.<P> The University has been given until September 22 to respond to the request. University spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman declined to comment on the letter as of last night.<P> The Recording Industry Association of America -- an organization representing major recording labels -- first filed a suit against Napster in December, charging the company with violating copyright laws.<P> The court issued an injunction over the summer ordering Napster to shut down until the suit was decided, but Napster successfully appealed the ruling. The suit is currently in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.<P> Earlier this year, a similar suit was filed by numerous record companies, and many Web sites similar to Napster have settled suits filed against them.<P> Penn is just one of many universities across the country to receive a letter from the musicians. However, the University of Southern California and Indiana and Yale universities were sued along with Napster when they failed to comply last spring with the requests of Metallica and Dr. Dre.<P> Howard King, attorney for the two artists, said that the lawsuit was filed because his clients "saw the universities as willing participants and enablers of Napster infringement."<P> In the cases of USC and Yale, King said, "There is an irony of having wonderful creative and dramatic arts programs... yet encouraging Napster use, which [if] left unchecked would deprive" students of a chance to make a living in the creative arts in the future.<P> The lawsuit against all three universities was dropped after they agreed to restrict their students' usage of Napster, but King warned that other suits could still be filed.<P> The attorney made it clear that the letter sent to Rodin was not intended as a threat, but a copy of the original Napster lawsuit and the suit filed against USC, Indiana and Yale were included with the letter.<P> In addition, the musicians' lawsuit against Napster includes a clause that reserves a place for universities to be added.<P> King explained that his clients are targeting universities in particular because they "are a hotbed of Napster usage," especially because colleges often "provide high-speed Internet connections."<P> King said only about 20 universities representing a broad geographical cross-section would be directly asked to address the Napster issue on their campuses.<P> He added that all his clients are asking for is a "full and fair discussion of the issue, with respect to the universities." And this goal can be pursued, he added, without suing 300 universities.<P> Harvard University received a similar letter from the musicians recently but has not officially responded. Harvard spokesman Joe Wrinn said the school will not be intimidated by the possibility of a lawsuit.<P> "It's a matter of respect for freedom of speech and the Internet," Wrinn said. But, he added, Harvard will make its final decision based on "the merits of the issues involved."<P> David Millar, Penn's information security officer, said the use of Napster at the University has not interfered with the operation of the school's networks.<P> Millar pointed out, though, that improper use of copyrighted material is a violation not only of federal law but also of University policy, and that those caught violating the policy can be referred to the Office of Student Conduct.<P> "Some of our students feel they're living in a protected sanctuary," Millar said. "I'm not sure that people are aware that there are groups out there like the RIAA that are scanning the 'Net for copyright violations for artists they represent."<P>