’S Upshot Essay, Research Paper
Bickering, oh the endless bickering! It seems like that has become the pastime of the record industry and the estimated 32 million Napster users. All this frustration was brought about when Napster revolutionized the use of person-to-person file sharing over the net. Littered throughout the world-wide-web are comments about Napster’s manipulation of laws regarding the record industry. On the other hand, there are thousands of reactions from pro-Napster users, who so proudly speak out in favor of it.
The record industry would have the public believe that Napster is going to put every music artist on welfare; this simply is not true. Every argument they have presented in the previous months has, when the entire situation is considered, achieved very little. The problems that have presented themselves have not been due to a lack of cooperation from Napster, Inc. The “Industry”, on the other hand, has shown an obvious greed and blatant lack of compromise toward Napster’s attempts at harmony.
Napster has proposed a number of ways to help the situation meet equilibrium. Every offer from Napster representatives has been shot down by the Industry. It is apparent that the would-be murderers of Napster have exhibited a thirst for blood that cannot be quenched by compromise.
The most recent offer from Napster has the potential to end the yearlong controversy about what should be done. The idea is that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) should purchase Napster, which could allow the many to benefit. However, as with any offer towards a compromise, there are some drawbacks that must be considered. What makes the idea of an ISP purchase so appealing is that all three companies; the record industry, Napster, and the proposed ISP; have to give something up, forcing them to form a live and let-live situation. Let us look at the positives and negatives from all three perspectives.
The ISP would have one major goal, something that forms the virtual backbone of any Internet service company, subscribers. Of course, this would allow only subscribers to the ISP to use Napster. For example, if America Online purchased Napster, an estimate can be made about the benefits. American Online charges $24 per month for dial-up service, which comes out to be $288 annually. If AOL took in an additional five million of the 32 million Napster users, it could generate an additional $144 billion in annual fees.
Of course, there is a downside. Regardless of Napster’s popularity, five million users would never switch over to an ISP simply for the program. When someone downloads files of the Internet, a certain amount of bandwidth (how much connection speed that is available) is taken up. If a single ISP took on 5 million extra users, all of whom would be downloading from Napster, the bandwidth would be so low that trying to download would be useless. Another fact is that there are plenty of free alternatives; gnutella, imesh, and audiofind.com are just a few examples of these.
So how does the Record Industry benefit? Well, the one thing they have always been out to get, money. With the sale of Napster, the ISP would have to pay royalties or licensing fees to the copyright holder. Of course, that still means that they can charge so much for the license that the ISP would be forced to raise the price of a subscription. A possibility that is not improbable, considering that the average $15 CD costs a mere 15 cents to make.
The downside that the record industry has to deal with is the fact that Napster will live on. If so, even more free alternatives will begin to fill the “e-shoes” that Napster so speedily created. Given that in the past months, the Industry has rejected every other proposal Napster has given, it is obvious that the record industry would regret not being able to shut them down completely.
Finally, perhaps the biggest benefit of all will go to Napster. They will finally be able to make money and be free from lawsuits. Over the past year, Napster has implemented a revolution for freedom on the Internet. The deal with an ISP would allow Napster to remain a medium for MP3 savvy users to get their groove on in the virtual world.
As far as a loss for Napster, there really are not many. If Napster, Inc. formed a type of partnership with the ISP, they would have to conform to the regulations they require, as well as those presented by the Industry. If Napster, Inc. were to simply sell the entire company, they may still be forced to cover the debts from previous lawsuits. So the amount of profit gained may not be worth selling.
So, is Napster, Inc. going to sell out to an ISP, if they are even allowed to? Considering that the Industry is so fixed on wiping out Napster, it is hard to see the sale happening. Even if Napster was allowed to sell to an ISP, there is no guarantee that there will be cooperation from the record industry, let alone the revenues and resources to make it successful. Yet, in light of the fact that Napster has overcome even more overwhelming obstacles, I find it hard to believe that a situation like the ISP purchase cannot find some form of equilibrium.