If you want to know where a Silicon Valley-ite stands in the ongoing war for the soul of the Internet, just ask him or her what the buzzword is these days. Many will tell you it is “B2B,” a backslapping shorthand for e-schemes directed to the “business to business” market. But those who still believe that the Internet revolution is still a seething, evolving, paradigm-busting phenomenon will offer a different buzzword: “Napster” (Levy 68).
This new term pertains to a specific digital-music program, the start-up company built around the free software and the full effect brought about by its crazy popularity (Ante 197,198). 19-year-old Shawn Fanning began writing the code so he could stop his roommate’s constant complaining about the unreliable MP3 search engines (Greenfeld, “The Free Juke Box,” 82). “It took a true Internet kid…to figure out that the way to do it was to allow anybody free and total access to everybody else’s music collection” (Levy 68).
Download the program, free of charge, and simply type in the songs that are desired. Napster then lists what’s available online in the MP3 format on thousands of hard drives. It then finds the selection on someone else’s hard drive, and with a click of a button its downloaded onto your hard drive, and others can then download it from there (Levy 68). Napster is a program that should not be shut-down but supported because it enables people to search for and download songs that are no longer produced, available, or hard to find.
Napster has made itself some powerful enemies in its short existence (Cohen 41). “It has drawn the wrath of the record industry, whose suit charges the company ‘launched a service that enables and facilitates piracy of music on an unprecedented scale’” (Brull 50). Piracy is defined by the World Book Dictionary as “the act of publishing or using a book, play, musical composition, or the like, without permission” (Barnhart). In fact, Napster does the exact opposite. It states so in its Napster, Inc. End-User Software License Agreement (Appendix A):
The software integrated browser which, when used with the Napster service, is designed to enable musicians and music fans to locate audio recordings available in the MP3 format…Accordingly, you 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’ rights.
The above paragraph states the terms that Napster makes with its users. The terms state that Napster respects copyright laws and expects its users to do the same. A federal judge in New York ruled that a new service from MP3. com Inc. let people access their music from the Web and that had infringed on copyright laws (Brull 50). But what looked like a victory for the $14. 6 billion record industry was only a skirmish in a war it is losing (Brull 50). The message has become quite clear: Courtroom victories won’t save the Industry.
Instead, the record companies should quickly create new business models that would allow consumers to organize their music on computers and send it over the net. So far, the big industry giants have been dragging their feet. They fear that surrendering control of music distribution would mean losing revenue and royalties (Brull 50). There are signs that the industry is finally moving. On April 28, for instance, Sony Music Entertainment Inc. began selling digitally delivered singles from Babyface, Pearl Jam, and two-dozen other artists at its Sonymusic. com site (Brull 50).
And on May 2, Sony and Universal Music Group announced a joint venture to develop a subscription-based service over computers, cell phones, and set-up boxes. But these ventures are little more than baby steps. Sony’s download service is a nonstarter because songs are priced at the same level as CD singles (Brull 50). Moreover, the system restricts users’ ability to transfer files to their own computer or to other digital devices such as MP3 players. Contrast that with Napster, which allows PC owners to share their music files that are stored on their hard drives over the Net (Brull 50).
Hundreds of thousands of users have downloaded the program since it was shipped last summer. Each person has free access to song files stored on other PCs, creating a virtual library of millions of tracks (Brull 50). Of course, Napster doesn’t have to worry about getting paid every time songs are downloaded, because it is free. Piracy on Napster might be infamous, but the company has a strong defense (Brull 50). The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 mainly shields portals and directory sites from liability unless they are directly involved with, or participating in an illegal activity.
Napster states that it ejects users found engaging in piracy (Brull 50), as stated in Appendix A: “Termination of This License: Napster, Inc. may terminate this license at any time if you are in breach of any of these terms and conditions of use. Upon such termination you must and agree to immediately destroy all copies of the software. ” The problem here is that the record industry has no choice but to join more rapidly into the fray or be left behind (Brull 50). But the biggest Napster effect has yet to come (Levy 68).
The legal system may be the last refuge of doomed business models (Greenfeld, “Meet the Napster,” 1). When Big Steel and the auto industry were under pressure during the ‘70s from low-cost imports, their first instinct was not to change their outmoded manufacturing plants, but to plead with the courts to bar the outlanders. The record industry has taken a similar path, charging the distributors of digital music with violating copyright laws and fair use agreements (Greenfeld, “The Digital Reckoning,” 56).
According to David Boies, in an article written by John Heilemann, It is not, for two basic reasons. The first is that this kind of noncommercial consumer copying is recognized as fair use under common-law theories and doctrines, and under the Supreme Court’s criteria. And second, with respect to audio recordings – that is, music – the Audio Home Recording Act directly says that noncommercial copying by consumers is lawful” (Heilemann 1). Therefore, the above states that what Napster does is not illegal, nor is it wrong.
In an interview with Mr. Edward Protzman, the question of whether or not Napster was a good program was asked. Mr. Protzman replied that Napster was a good program for musicians because the public could listen to their music and if they liked it, then they would be inclined to buy that person’s or group’s CD. Because there are no obligations to pay for anything with Napster, it can be considered a free sample of that musician’s work. When asked if he would put his own music on Napster he replied, “Sure, because its an excellent way for new groups to break into the music scene.
Not everyone can afford to go public with popular major labels and it puts the musicians in charge of their music. He also commented that many musicians publish their own albums, and that Napster gives them a free chance to advertise their music. Napster is a program that should not be shut down or even stopped, but supported and worked upon. It is a program that enables the average everyday PC owner to find music that is no longer produced, sold, or found in stores, catalogs, and/or specific online sites.
It is a free program that promotes sponsorship of new coming bands and groups and despite what rumors say, Napster rejects piracy. The creators of Napster believe in free music for everyone. Napster is a company that believes in the preservation of copyrights. “The RIAA would like to pretend that the case is about Napster wanting to eliminate intellectual property” (Heilemann 1). Intellectual property is made up of copyrights, trademarks, and patents (Halloran 61). Nobody at Napster wants to eliminate intellectual property (Heilemann 1), and no one at Napster violates any copyright laws, procedures, or patents.