RIAA Vs Napster Essay, Research Paper
The debate over whether or not Napster Inc. is in violation of existing
copyright infringement laws is a complex issue. Napster?s defense attorneys
claim that because music is shared between users, and Napster is never actually
in possession of these files (the company is merely providing the service by
which these files can be shared), Napster is in fact, not guilty of compromising
copyright infringement laws. According to these same lawyers, the Audio Home
Recording Act of 1992, which rules that it is entirely legal for a consumer to
record and to share copyrighted music providing it not be done for monetary
gain, protects Napster Inc. On the opposing side, The Recording Industry
Association of America asserts that Napster is indirectly acting as a
distributor of copyrighted music, thereby violating the Home Recording Act of
Napster Inc. was founded in 1999 by nineteen year-old Shawn Fanning. Fanning
dropped out of Northeastern University in order to devote the entirety of his
time to developing Napster?s revolutionary software. The company, who was
financed by venture capital firm Hummer Winblad, totaled $0.0 in sales for 1999.
Napster Inc, however, is currently exploring ways to utilize their over 35
million users in order to turn a profit. Napster can be accessed from any
computer with Internet capabilities, allowing the user to download virtually any
song. This technology does not only threaten the recording industry, but also
any other industry that involves the sale of intellectual property. One might
speculate that the publishing and the movie making industries are next in line
to fall victim to file sharing.
It would be in the best interest of both Napster and the RIAA to reach some
agreement. A federal court ruling allowing Napster to remain in business will
only hurt the consumer. Record companies will be forced to protect themselves,
which could, for example, lead to the introduction of copyright protected
compact disks. This would make it impossible for new music to be copied and
distributed over the Internet. In addition, the increase in production cost
would, in turn, cause CD prices to rise, thereby hurting the consumer.
While the technology pioneered by Napster is potentially harmful to the
United States economy, this does not mean that it should be prevented from being
used. If the RIAA and Napster come to an agreement, then file-sharing technology
could prove to be profitable for all. Just as television and radio are
profitable because of tremendous amounts of money generated through advertising,
the free distribution of music over the Internet could do the same for record
companies. The Internet has already proven to be extremely profitable for
companies such as alladvantage.com, whose profits come solely from advertising.
Through great amounts of money made through advertising, services such as
Napster could pay artists and record companies for the rights to their music.
In conclusion, Napster?s technology should be carefully embraced. In other
words, rather than destroy the record industry, Napster should include it. The
RIAA would be smart in striking a deal with Napster. Technology is moving at
such a rapid speed, that the industry can only stay profitable if they choose to
move into new markets. With the overwhelming popularity of Mp3?s, it seems as
though Internet distribution is the future of the music. The record industry can
choose to evolve, and profit from advancements made in technology, or they can
fight technology and stand to loose.