Napster Vs. Riaa Essay, Research Paper
Not Violating Copyrights
Going to be a Useful Tool for Musicians in the Future
Copyright infringement has quickly become one of the most talked about issues of the internet. The most difficult aspect is
defining its boundaries and pinpointing its limits. The distribution of music via Napster is a perfect example of a controversial
issue that has sprouted due to copyright questions. Technically, Napster is not violating any copyright laws. Although it may
appear as if Napster is distributing and illegally copying music, in actuality Napster is merely a server/database in which
users have access to categorized MP3 files. Napster is also free. Copyright infringement is present only when the users
illegally copy and distribute music files not merely the presence of a server. This paper takes the standpoint that Napster is
going to be an extremely useful tool to the music industry in the future. Although it currently appears that these two groups
are at entirely opposite ends, the solution to the problem is defining guidelines that will benefit both sides.
The music industry has become extremely volatile with the emergence of company’s like Napster, and Mp3.com. These, as
well as others, are programs that allow the sharing and trading of music. Napster is software program that lets users create
a virtual network in which they can see other users’ MP3s and decide if they would like to download them or not. The
Napster software also gives the ability to chat with other users and create a set of preferences based on your own musical
tastes. And while some of the files being traded through Napster are legal, the majority of the files are not. The users of
Napster are able to trade music that has not been authorized by record labels or individual artists. The problem remains that
music is being traded illegally and Napster is providing the server that allows the functioning of this network. Napster,
however, should not be legally prosecuted for copyright infringement. Napster has a clearly laid out copyright policy that
every user must agree and comply with:
“Napster users decide what content to make available to others using the Napster browser, and what content to download.
Users are responsible for complying with all applicable federal and state laws applicable to such content, including
copyright laws. Napster respects copyright law and expects our users to do the same. Unauthorized copying, distribution,
modification, public display, or public performance of copyrighted works is an infringement of the copyright holders’
Basically Napster has created a “cushion” through the use of the policy. The users should be held responsible for their own
actions, although currently there is not an effective system that can monitor these activities. Through the use of this policy
and the compliance that users must be in agreement with, Napster is not held responsible for the activities of its users and
should not be held accountable for any copyright infringement activities.
The music industry can benefit from Napster. There are so many positive aspects concerning the existence of Napster. It is
not only a mediator that allows “sharing” of music but it also “provides a showcase for artists who lack the resources to
grease the palms of seedy recording executives. For these artists, Napster provides the perfect platform. This way, 98 per
cent of struggling artists can finally compete with the 2 per cent successful musicians”(Edwards). It is helping musicians that
have talent but lack resources. Napster allows an advertising medium for musicians who are unsigned or are independent.
Their music can be listened to and distributed easily and efficiently in order to increase their publicity. Due to the fact it is
free, it allows these artists to distribute their music with little or no cost. The convenience of Napster is also impressive by
allowing all of its users to log on at any time and access the service from anywhere. The music industry will surely realize the
potential that Napster has and, if wise, will utilize this service to their advantage.
Although Napster has attempted to protect itself from lawsuits through the use of their copyright policy, there are still many
concerns about the piracy of copyrighted music being transacted through the system. This has caused a series of lawsuits
against Napster. The claim that is being made is that Napster is violating copyright laws and music companies need to be
reimbursed for the royalties lost. Recently Napster became the main target for lawsuits filed by Metallica and Dr. Dre who
claim that “I don’t like people stealing my music”(Dawn). Not only did the musicians file suits, but also 5 major recording
companies filed as well. Although Napster is a quick way to swap music and a virtual library of MP3’s, it may have hurtful
impact on the music industry and may also cause a decrease in music sales if it continues for a prolonged time; this has not
been proven yet. One unique twist to this story is the involvement of Bertlesmann, a German media giant, when it decided
to pull out of the lawsuit and actually opted to help Napster and acquired a huge stake in the company. “Under the deal,
Bertelsmann will provide money for Napster to devise a way to charge a fee for its service and Bertelsmann may become a
part owner. Part of the fee will be turned over to the recording companies, mirroring the current royalty system” (Dawn).
This move is shocking, but it is nevertheless a very intelligent move. There is so much room for advancement of the music if
companies like Napster and Bertlesmann continue working together. If the rest of the music industry follows, this action will
give Napster big support and Bertlesmann’s involvement will prevent Napster from being shut down because of their power
and money supply. This is a huge leap in technology and will no doubt bring about huge changes in the current music
industry by allowing an interconnected system between musicians and their public.
Napster is revolutionizing the music industry. It is forming a stepping stone towards music dispersion connectivity, and it has
the potential to be extremely beneficial to all parties involved. The major obstacles hindering the success of Napster are the
negative results impacting musicians and recording companies. The reason for this is that no revenue is being obtained from
the sharing of this music which causes those companies to feel like they are getting ripped off. There is another huge suit
filed against Napster, instigated by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They feel that Napster
“facilitates the growth of a black market for illegal copies of digital music.”(Dawn). “”We love the idea of using technology
to build artist communities, but that’s not what Napster is all about,” said Cary Sherman, senior executive vice president and
general counsel of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). “Napster is about facilitating piracy, and trying
to build a business on the backs of artists and copyright owners”"(Dawn). Just like Metallica and Dr. Dre they feel that
Napster is undercutting their business and they are trying to combat this attack by suing Napster. This is a rather drastic
measure, but it is driving home a point. Musicians have poured their hearts and souls into their music and albums, and just
like any other entrepreneur, they are trying to make a profit from their hard work. Napster has shocked the music industry
by seemingly taking away their options and providing users the ability to easily infringe copyrights.
Napster is not directly breaking any copyright infringement laws, but it could be promoting the piracy and illegal distribution
of music. By installing the new fee for use of Napster services, the stealing and sharing of music can now be considered the
dispersion of music over a legal system. Napster is a tool that is full of opportunities that can enhance the music industry and
promote musicians. It is an excellent company who hopefully has a long and bright future. Music industries must realize that
Napster can greatly enhance their production abilities, an agreement just need to be made and barriers need to be set.
Fanning, Shawn, “Napster Copyright Policy”, Nov. 1, 2000, “http://www.napster.com/terms/”
Edwards, P., vIndia.com Take A Stand, “Speak Up!, Nov. 1, 2000, “http://discussion.vindia.com/ts/stand.asp?stand=47″
Dawn, C., New York Times, “The Napster Deal”, Nov. 2, 2000,