The Napster Debate Essay Research Paper The

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The Napster Debate Essay, Research Paper The Napster Debate The Napster software (http://www.napster.com), established in May of 1999, allows Internet users to share and download MP3 files directly from any computer connected to the Napster network. The software downloads a client program from the Napster site and then connects to the network through the software. This allows sharing (uploading and downloading) of MP3 files between all users connected to the network. Napster also allows users to speak to one another by ways of instant messages, chat rooms, and Hot List user bookmarks. Napster does not condone copyright infringement, but leaves no opportunity in the software to stop this from happening. Napster also does not provide artists with royalties for their music.

People can now download music for free in their own homes and artists can release their music themselves. This could mean the end of record labels and other associated companies, causing artists and record companies to worry. Napster challenges the music industry’s monopoly on distribution Unlike similar file-sharing software such as Gnutella and Freenet, Napster limits users to uploading/downloading of MP3 files only. (http://gnutella.wego.com/) and (http://freenet.sourceforge.net/) MP3 files approximate one-tenth the size of the corresponding wave files and can be close to CD-quality. This reason causes many artists, record labels, and other music industry stakeholders to be concerned by MP3 file formats like Napster that simplify the sharing of copyrighted material. Other

file formats commonly used on the Internet do not seem to be a threat to the recording industry primarily due to the reduced quality of the recording. Real audio files have reduced sound quality, as compared to a radio, and usually stream over different protocols. This allows people to listen to songs without having to download the source files. Midi, another music file format, can be commonly found on the Internet. These files pose no threat to the music industry. The files send a set of instructions to the computer communicating which sounds to play, not recorded music since there is no way to duplicate vocal tracks. Use of the Midi format has decreased causing the software to become outdated. The reaction from artists, record labels, and other music industries varies, although

reactions have been primarily anti-Napster. The first action to be taken against Napster was by the band Metallica. (http://www.salon.com/tech/log/2000/05/10/napster_metallica/index.html) In April of 2000, Metallica sued Napster Inc. for copyright infringement. (http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/review/crH599.htm) Napster banned some 300,000 users who allegedly downloaded Metallica songs to settle the case out of court. (http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/11131.html) Napster Inc. was sued again in June 2000, for copyright infringement by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade group representing the US recording industry. The RIAA alleged, “Napster is… enabling and encouraging the illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted music”.

(http://www.riaa.com/About- Who.cfm) Napster claims the Audio Home Recording Act permits copying of material for personal use, allowing users to exchange MP3’s. Napster further claims immunity by defining the company as an ISP under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/11750.html) The RIAA unsuccessfully applied for an injunction to stop Napster’s operations until after the court case in September. (http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/review/crH528.htm) Other artists and record labels (http://www.napster.com/speakout/artists.html) and (http://www.napster.com/speakout/labels.html) have reacted to the advent of Napster and similar software in a positive way, embracing the new technology rather than rejecting it. On the