The Napster debate managed to cross over into an online U.S. presidential debate yesterday, when four candidates responded to a question posted to the "rolling cyber debate" on the political Web site Web White & Blue.

Neither Al Gore nor George W. Bush gave a clear-cut answer to the question posted to the site, which was: "In light of the recent Napster case, what are your views on Internet file-sharing and the protection of intellectual property online? Where would your administration draw the line regarding freedom to access content versus copyright infringement?"

The Internet-based music file sharing service, Napster and the Recording Industry Association of Americ (RIAA) have been engaged in an ongoing legal battle over copyright infringement.

Democratic presidential candidate Gore compared the controversy surrounding Napster to the introduction of radio, which was seen at the time as a similar threat to songwriters.

He called for a compromise between the two sides, that would allow "Napster-type technologies to flourish," but "not take away the artist's intellectual property."

Bush, the Republican candidate, wouldn't comment specifically on the Napster case because it was a pending legal matter, but merely made similar statements without mentioning the software by name.

According to Bush, we must "find a way to apply our copyright laws to ensure that artists, writers and creators can earn a profit from their creation," while also "adapting to and utilising new technologies to deliver media to consumers."