Washam 1 Is Napster Stealing? The web site Napster has become a very popular site on the Internet this past year. The web site was founded by 19-year-old Shawn Fanning. Fanning thought up the ideal of Napster while a freshman at Northwestern University. In May of 1999, Fanning was looking for digital music files (MP3) on the Internet and became frustrated about how hard it was. Fanning later got financial support from a friend a created the software that makes Napster possible (Hartigan).
The Napster web site has been very popular since it started. Over twenty million people have downloaded the program. The Napster web site can be accessed at Napster.com. Once you are there you can download the software onto your computer. When the download completes your computer is connected to everyone else who has downloaded the program.
Napster consist of a library, search engine, and a chat room. The library is where you store your MP3 files that you have downloaded. The search engine is where your can search other peoples computers and download files they have. All you have to do is put in a bands name and song title and hit find it on the task bar and instantly one hundred songs appear ready to be downloaded. The chat room allows you to talk to people and find out what kind of songs they have.
Napster sounds great for free music but some of the people who make that music are not happy. The Record Industry Association of America (IRAA) filed a lawsuit in the San Francisco federal court saying that Napster users are violating copyright laws (Stone 58). The IRAA lawsuit says Napster is responsible for the copyright violations. The lawsuit also says that copyright music is being shared by Napster users and that violates the Musical Copyright Act of 1902. The IRAA lawsuit is also saying that Napster is violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998.
The Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 allows MP3 files to be linked by search engines but if the link contains copyright music than the engine must remove it (Mann). Napster is also being sued by the Washam 2 rock band Metallica and the rapper Dr. Dre because they say they their music is being illegally pirated on Napster. Lars Ulrich, Metallicas drummer, is the media spokesperson for the RIAA. Ulrich told Ron Harris of the Associated Press that if Napster users are stealing our music just like if they went down to the record store and stole it off the shelf.
He has also identified 335, 000 Napster users that are trading Metallicas copyrighted music without their permission. Ulrich is asking Napster to ban these users from the site (Borland). The IRAA also filed suit against two universities saying that they have a responsible to stop illegal activity on their computer systems. As a result of this lawsuit Yale University and Indiana University banned the web site. Many other colleges and universities followed because of fear of being sued (Harris). On Napsters side of the lawsuit they are saying that the entire lawsuit should be dropped because the web site is not directly responsible for the copyright violations.
Napster claims that it just provides the software to share the MP3 files and does not provide any files to be downloaded. Napster is also arguing that it is protected from copyright violations under the digital copyright laws. Napster also provides names of twenty-five thousand artist that say it is all right for their songs to be on Napster (Mann). Limp Bizkit and Cypress Hill even went on a free ticket tour, sponsored by Napster, to show their support for Napster. Napster also replied to what Ulrich said in the Associated Press by saying that it would comply with Metallica demands to remove their songs from Napster. I believe that Napster technology is not a form of computer piracy as long as it is used responsible.
In my opinion downloading songs off Napster is not piracy as long as you use them for your own personal use. I have almost two hundred songs downloaded from Napster and I do not feel I am breaking the law. I use the songs on my hard drive just to listen too while I am in my dorm room. I think that Napster is a good and fun technology but can turn into a form of free compact disc. Washam 3 Almost every computer is equipped with a compact disc burner, which allows people to make duplicate compact disc or copy MP3 files onto a compact disc.
If Napster users download songs and then use their compact disc burner to make a personal compact disc of the music then I would consider that violating copyright laws. Especially if the Napster user burn compact disc and then sell them. I think that a reasonable and fair resolution can made between Napster and record industries that will benefit both companies. Napster need to come up with a way to delete songs from their system for artist that do not want their songs. Napster could come up with some kind of membership.
I propose that Napster charge a small membership and pay royalties to the artist. Napster could charge five dollars a month or sixty dollars a year and that would be a reasonable price because I spend about sixty dollars a year on compact disc. With sixty dollars a year from twenty million users that would generate twelve billion dollars for Napster. I am sure some kind of deal can be made between Napster and the artist with twelve billion dollars. I believe it is in the best of the record industry to make a compromise with this type of technology because this type of file sharing is not going to stop. Other Internet sites have already started up providing the same services as Napster such as imesh.com and Scour.com.
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