NapsterText:The debate over whether or not Napster Inc. is in violation of existingcopyright infringement laws is a complex issue. Napsters defense attorneysclaim that because music is shared between users, and Napster is never actuallyin possession of these files (the company is merely providing the service bywhich these files can be shared), Napster is in fact, not guilty of compromisingcopyright infringement laws. According to these same lawyers, the Audio HomeRecording Act of 1992, which rules that it is entirely legal for a consumer torecord and to share copyrighted music providing it not be done for monetarygain, protects Napster Inc. On the opposing side, The Recording IndustryAssociation of America asserts that Napster is indirectly acting as adistributor of copyrighted music, thereby violating the Home Recording Act of1992.
Napster Inc. was founded in 1999 by nineteen year-old Shawn Fanning. Fanningdropped out of Northeastern University in order to devote the entirety of histime to developing Napsters revolutionary software. The company, who wasfinanced by venture capital firm Hummer Winblad, totaled $0.
0 in sales for 1999. Napster Inc, however, is currently exploring ways to utilize their over 35million users in order to turn a profit. Napster can be accessed from anycomputer with Internet capabilities, allowing the user to download virtually anysong. This technology does not only threaten the recording industry, but alsoany other industry that involves the sale of intellectual property.
One mightspeculate that the publishing and the movie making industries are next in lineto fall victim to file sharing. It would be in the best interest of both Napster and the RIAA to reach someagreement. A federal court ruling allowing Napster to remain in business willonly hurt the consumer. Record companies will be forced to protect themselves,which could, for example, lead to the introduction of copyright protectedcompact disks. This would make it impossible for new music to be copied anddistributed over the Internet.
In addition, the increase in production costwould, in turn, cause CD prices to rise, thereby hurting the consumer. While the technology pioneered by Napster is potentially harmful to theUnited States economy, this does not mean that it should be prevented from beingused. If the RIAA and Napster come to an agreement, then file-sharing technologycould prove to be profitable for all. Just as television and radio areprofitable because of tremendous amounts of money generated through advertising,the free distribution of music over the Internet could do the same for recordcompanies. The Internet has already proven to be extremely profitable forcompanies such as alladvantage.
com, whose profits come solely from advertising. Through great amounts of money made through advertising, services such asNapster could pay artists and record companies for the rights to their music. In conclusion, Napsters technology should be carefully embraced. In otherwords, rather than destroy the record industry, Napster should include it. TheRIAA would be smart in striking a deal with Napster. Technology is moving atsuch a rapid speed, that the industry can only stay profitable if they choose tomove into new markets.
With the overwhelming popularity of Mp3s, it seems asthough Internet distribution is the future of the music. The record industry canchoose to evolve, and profit from advancements made in technology, or they canfight technology and stand to loose.-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-