“As you know, the judge appointed me the mediator to resolve the dispute between Napster and the record labels. Mr. Boies, as Napster’s attorney, you mentioned that your side has an offer to make?”

“Yes, we would like to offer the Recording Industry a billion dollars in licensing fees. Not only would this end the lawsuit, but it would allow our users to legally swap songs by The Soft Boys, Enemymine and Sarah Harmer.”

“Ms. Rosen, how does the Recording Industry feel about this?”

“We would like to propose an addendum to the offer.”

“And that is?”

“We want Napster’s founder, Shawn Fanning, disemboweled before a noontime crowd at Union Square.”

“I see. Isn’t that a little drastic?”

“Drastic? For violating the copyrights of great artists like Mighty Mighty Bosstones or Dr. John? Gutting him like a trout is only the first step. After which, we will hoist his head on a lance and an artistic mob of musicians and songwriters led by Mary Chapin Carpenter will carry it to the Golden Gate Bridge, where it will be placed upon a tollbooth for all the world to see. That will show the others, like Gnutella and Aimster, what happens to people who steal our music.”

“Uh, uh. Yes, Mr. Boies?”

“We understand the position of the record labels, but isn’t this a little drastic?”

“Ms. Rosen, I have to agree with Mr. Boies. Your requirements do sound a bit barbaric.”

“Barbaric? They were the ones to facilitate song swapping on a planetary scale. Barbaric? Tell that to Raging Slab and Kenny Rogers, whose songs are being traded by Napster users as we speak. Besides, that’s only part of our offer.”

“It is?”

“Yes. After Fanning’s head is displayed on the toll booth for at least one month, we want it fed to a gigantic fish off the Monterey coast.”

“Mr. Boies? Your reaction?”

“Wait just a minute, Ms. Rosen. We already agreed that your members could siphon gas from Mr. Fanning’s car every other Monday. That Eminem could give him super wedgies at every Grammy, People’s Choice and MTV awards show for the next ten years. That artists like Little Feat and Tony Trischka would be allowed to flood his voice mail with prank phone calls like ‘Do you have Prince Albert in a can?’ We feel that you are just trying to block any deal we offer and we find your ridiculous demands grotesque and uncivilized.”

“Take it or leave it, Mr. Boies.”

“Ms. Rosen, Mr. Boies, it sounds like things are getting out of hand. We have to remember that we are business people and that an offer has been put on the table. Yes, Ms. Rosen?”

“The Recording Industry stands firm.”

“Mr. Boies?”

“Do you realize you’re holding up the future of digital distribution channels for KISS and U2? We’re talking about all of us in this room potentially earning millions, maybe even billions of dollars from people swapping ‘N Sync songs. And furthermore… And furthermore…”

“Yes, Mr. Boies?”

“How big does the fish have to be?”