An Economic View Of Napster Lawsuit Essay

, Research Paper

One of the most exciting and innovative ways to get music these days is not in the mall and not at a huge mega electronic store, it’s not even by a mail order CD club, it sits right on a desk and can allow you access to almost any kind of music available right in our home. Technology is changing the way we listen to music now downloading music from NAPSTER on the Internet is as easy if not a lot easier than going to the store and buying the CD. MP3 is a community of near CD quality digital recording of a musical piece that is compressed so it can be distributed through the Internet. It seems the high prices, new technology, and a big one is availability are causing most music lovers to turn to the Internet to listen to their music. It’s convenient to search a database for a song you’ve been wanting to hear by your favorite artist, download it, and copy it on to a CD.

More and more people are doing this because with the help of search engines it’s possible to find any song imaginable and download it for free. What most people don’t realize is that the reproduction of a musical work, distribution of copies of a musical piece, and the public performance of the work without the copyright owner’s consent are all violations of copyright laws.

Catching people who violate copyright laws is very hard to find out just who is a fault. Is it the web site promoting pirated music or is it the user who downloads it? Do to digital audio compression technologies and using special software that is readily available and free on the internet, one can download a MPEG 1 layer 3 or MP3 for short, play the music on there computer and with read/write CD’s, even make a CD of there own. That would mean people can from their own home create illegal copies of the copyrighted material at or near industrial compact disc quality.

Now they even have portable MP3 players so you don’t even have to burn a CD, you can just download it to the player were it stores it digitally. Being so convenient and easy to do with such minimal risk of being punished.

As a matter of law the creation of an MP3 file and sharing it in a noncommercial way does not constitute copyright infringement. In enacting the AHRA (Audio Home recording act of 1992) congress relied upon a report by the office of technology assessment on home taping that deemed taping of cds or records borrowed from friends, and giving copies of one s own cds or records to be synonymous with personal use. Because, Personal use under the AHRA is non-infringing, even if it could be argued that such use was not a total bar to a copyright infringement claim such use would still be sufficient to bar a claim for contributory or vicarious infringement against Napster.

Napster Claims that it does not substantially participate in infringing activity. Napster maintains that it only provides a service for locating MP3 users and serves as a conduit for the users who download the files from other participants NOT Napster. The Record industries answer to this argument is that without the searching and indexing functions provided by Napster File sharing would not be as easy. Napster does not have a database of files that it shares or does Napster promote the illegal sharing of copyrighted material. Everytime Napster has received claims of infringement at a specific location; Napster has blocked the conduct by terminating the user account and the IP address of the users computer making it impossible for him or her to reregister for the service. It seems that there is a fine line between infringement and fair use. The record industry has known of the existence of the software for creating MP3s from cds but has not intervened until two teenage kids stunned the world by creating an overnight thorn in the record industries side. Studies conducted by Warner in 1998 concluded that the availability of MP3s on the Internet had no impact on sales. Another Warner study in 1999 followed the release of a Tom Petty track in MP3 format on the Internet prior to the albums street release. The study concluded that the first week s sales of the new album were considerably higher than the first week of Petty s previous album, she s the one. The report recommended future free online releases of tracks before an albums release. Sales of CDs are at record levels, up 8% through May 2000 compared to the same quarter last year when Napster was not operating.

Sampling Music before buying is also considered fair use. This can be seen in most major Record outlets where a sample of an artists record are on display and available to be heard. With NAPSTER come probably thousands of artists that no longer have to wait for an agent, scout or label to pick them up so they can be heard. Through the Internet they will be able to become there own label no longer need the support of a big record company to get their music to an audience. This is already being done by all kinds of artists on the net, some even have there clubs online where you pay a fee to get in much like a cover at a bar and you get to hear the music of all the bands that are playing at that club that night.

This does understandably have record company’s scared of going out of business. What would that be like? No record companies. A time where every artist is there own label and distributor. This would be good and bad on the economy in a variety of ways. The first would probability be the retail end of the industry, they would no longer need the long aisle filled with tapes and CD’s instead they would be forced to make up the profits in selling blank CD’s for much less and selling MP3 software. This is a perfect example of Price equaling Marginal cost. Without an incentive to produce for a profit there is no reason to produce and that is what both artists and record labels are afraid of. The second would be the record companies, by not being able to sell the highly marked up CD’s they would have to become resourceful to survive. Finding ways to make money off CD’s or the software would be essential for the label’s to compete. The third would be the consumer, having the convenient songs ready to download to your computer at any time with any song would be a major advantage of getting into it.

People would no longer have to be deprived of music because of availability or cost. It would create so many more options for the people to expand their minds and intellect. It would also create a better relationship between artist and fan, the fan could visit there web page learn about the artists and send e-mail. The artists would also make more money by cutting out almost all of the middlemen and keeping the profits for themselves. Technology and music will have peaceful and profitable relationship with out the pressures of a label in the very near future. It will become a major source for getting music and listening to new artists in the future.

In every instance in which new technology has arisen and threatened the interests of copyright holders the law has always sided with the new technology and both parties have benefited from the outcome. The overwhelming public demand for the technology that Napster has brought to the public will demand to be reckoned with. The public demands convenience and access and even though the courts will decide, the public has already spoken. We want Napster.



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