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/ Copyrighted Napster NapsteCopyrighted we stand, Pirated we fall: This is what the music industry would have people believe. Welcome to the information age! Any information is available to whoever wants it, needs it, or just has a lot of time to spend looking for it. The latest victim of the information age is the RIAA, The Recording Industry Association of America. The argument: The right to trade RIAA artists songs using the Napster server in MP 3 format over the Internet. Can the furor over copyright battles hurt the music industry more than help?
Artists and record companies must understand that their customers will continue to seek out and develop new technologies that will help them make the best logical decision in purchasing music. MP 3, what is it? MP 3 is the latest compression coding software for multimedia files, mostly digital music files. A song on a store-bought compact disc is about one mega byte of information for each minute of actual song time. A song that is four minutes long on a compact disc will result in digital information file of about four mega bytes in length. It will take approximately thirty minutes to download this file over the Internet with a 56 k connection.
The compression factor of the MP 3 encoding is what makes it so attractive. The same song as mentioned before will have the compressed file size of approximately two mega bytes without losing any of the original songs sound quality. The download time for this file over the Internet will take fifteen minutes, cutting the time in half. Why is that important? People have to pay to be on the Internet so the less time it takes to download, the better. Everyone has his or her own definition of intellectual property piracy.
From the onset of the personal computer, to the explosion of the World Wide Web, companies have been founded on the acts of piracy. Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple Computers, is well documented in the fact that he stole his Apple Operating System from Xerox. This was the breakthrough Graphic User Interface that made computers easy to understand and use. Mr. Jobs also flew a pirate flag outside of his offices in California! Bill Gates III followed suit when he and The Microsoft Corporation joined Apple Computer on the premise of helping them.
They then stole the code for what we now know as the Windows Operating System. What does this have to do with Napster and the RIAA? Relatively little in the grand scheme of things but it shows a common example of piracy in the right context. What is Napster, and what is the big deal?
Napster is nothing more than a database program that exists on a computer server somewhere in San Mateo, CA. What that database houses is the controversy. The database houses the Internet provider addresses for more than ten million users. Each of these ten million users have in their computers an un determinable number of songs in MP 3 format. The songs range from every musical genre, Chopin to Metallica.
Consumers can take store-bought compact discs, make their own MP 3 files, and then add them to their shared music profile in their Napster software. Again, Napster does not hold the copyrighted material on their servers. It is stored on the computer of John Q. Public.
The people are controlling what music they share with the globe. Napster has a disclaimer on its transfer page warning people not to break copyright infringements. Some people think that Napster advertises their software solely for the piracy of copyrighted music. This is not true! Nowhere on their web site do they advocate someone breaking the law. Napster also has the right to ban anyone from using their database service if they are found to have broken the copyright laws.
From there, the users of Napster decide if it is worth the risk of prosecution by the Federal Government. This is not groundbreaking litigation; Universal City Studios sued the Sony Corporation in 1984 for copyright infringements. The issue was with the VTR, which later was referred to as the VCR. Universal was seeking restitution for copyright infringements brought on by consumers videotaping TV shows.
The courts found that, [t]he sale of the VTRs to the public does not constitute contributory infringement of the respondents copyrights (HRRC 1). This is the same type of lawsuit, record companies and artists, trying to litigate the company by which some people might use the product for copyright infringing. Another example would be, a college student scanning a printed copyrighted text to add to a website research project. Did the student break the law by scanning the information and posting it on their website? Sure, s / he did.
However, would the author bring the scanner manufacture up on charges or the Student? The student would get the lawsuit in this case. The scanner was just the device used in the process of breaking the law. Did the scanner maker know that it would be possible to do such actions when they manufactured the product? Yes, but can they take responsibility for what the consumer will do with the technology?
No, well how can the RIAA expect to win this lawsuit? The smartest thing the artists and recording companies can do is learn to harness this type of piracy. Software companies have fought this from the inception of the floppy disk. Software piracy was so bad in the late eighties, companies had to develop shareware. Shareware was a free trial of the software that was distributed for the cost of a floppy disk, about a dollar a copy. Computer gamers could also download these from a Bulletin Board or FTP site in the early stages of the Internet.
This would allow gamers to try the game before they went to the store and bought the full version. This sounds like a novel idea. Maybe the RIAA should take notice? Ultimately the majority of recording artists are not happy about this software.
Their thinking dictates that if someone is downloading their songs for free, they are not receiving royalties for their work. The artists are coming forth to let their voices be heard. Lars Ulrich of Metallica has said; Lets get the obvious out of the way: This is not just about the money (as some of the more cynical people will think). This is as close as you get to whats right and whats wrong.
Metallica have always been in favor of giving the fans as much access as possible to our music. This includes taping sections at our concerts, and streaming our music via our website. Moreover, while we certainly revere our fans for their continued support and desire for our music, we must stress that the open trading of any copyrighted material is, in effect, the looting of our art Napster and other such sites were obviously not conceived to lose money. They, like the labels, must make money or they are out of business. And whatever money they are generating from their site is dirty money. Its being taken out of the hands of the artist and the record labels and put into the hands of another corporation. (RIAA 4) I am excited about the opportunities presented by the Internet because it allows artists to communicate directly with fans.
Elton John proclaims and goes on to say, [b]ut the bottom line must always be respect and compensation for creative work. I am against Internet piracy and it is wrong for companies like Napster and others to promote stealing from artists online (RIAA 3). The number of artists who have come forth to criticize Napster has been staggering. A great many has been from the rap community. This is shocking to some people.
Most rap artists will wait ten years until the music becomes public domain and then sample or steal the main melody of a song. What about the royalties they should have paid for ninety percent of their art? They steal what real music they need and discard the rest. Is this why it is called Gangster Rap? A few artists have rallied behind Napster. Dexter Holland of the group, The Offspring, told Jolie Lash of Rolling Stone Magazine, I dont know what Metallica's motives or reasons for what theyre doing are, but as far as were concerned, I support the exchange of MP 3 files online (1).
Other newer groups followed suit with The Offspring. Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit said, We believe that the Internet and Napster should not be ignored by the music industry as tools to promote awareness for bands and [to] market music. He goes on to say in an interview with Eric Boehlert of Salon. com, We could care less about the older generations need to keep doing business as usual, we care more about what our fans want and our fans want music on the Internet (2).
Artists definitely have a legitimate complaint, but it is not with Napster. The problem has to be with the actual people who have taken the trouble to convert the digital song into a MP 3 file, and then stored it on their computer for the world to download. The genius behind Napster lies herein; will the recording artists litigate ten million of their fans? Can they stomach to prosecute them? This is what makes the lawsuit against Napster preposterous. It is like suing Smith and Wesson for a tragic school shooting.
They did not do the crime they just built the gun. This is an exaggerated example but the principles are the same. Scott Bruffey says in a response to the Napster lawsuit, As a musician myself, I dont mind the occasional borrowing of my copyrighted material; its almost always encouraged the borrower to purchase some of my other material. Mp 3 s are NOT as high quality as an original CD, and whenever someone I know has downloaded unauthorized material, they use it as a test drive prior to purchasing the legitimate release (1). With all of this upheaval from both sides, the winds are kicking up a storm and it smells of a revolution. That is right ladies and gentlemen a revolution is brewing, a revolutionary way of getting music, of global communication, and of saving the wealth that non artists have come across.
How is this revolution going to save people money? This revolution will eventually result in a new way of purchasing music. Would it not be easier to download the music, sleeve art, and lyrics straight from the music company? Some people believe that this will be the future. This will eliminate the intermediary from the equation. Imagine going to a favorite bands website and downloading sample MP 3 files from every song on the CD.
Then the buyer could make an intelligent buying decision. If the CD was impressive enough throughout, a person could then be directed to a download website and purchase the entire compilation. The price should be substantially lower. Reasons for this price reduction are; no reproduction mark up, no substrate CDs, or sleeves, and no shipping cost to the stores. What a magnificent concept! The buyer would then download the music, make the CD, print the inner-sleeve and artwork, print the lyric sleeve, and BAM it is complete!
No more will the public be duped into buying a CD to find out there is only one good track on it. Another bonus to this way of buying music is making a greatest hit CD. For those artists that may only have one or two good songs on their CD, this would be another way to get sales. A person could download what they want and put those songs onto a CD.
The industry needs to be heading in this direction, not turning their back on the patrons that pay their bills. Napster, or at least the premise behind Napster, will not go away. Music consumers do not want to see the artists hurt, neither monetarily nor emotionally from this service. People will gladly pay a fair price for what they feel is a good value.
If the consumer has inclinations that they are not receiving their moneys worth, they will get it free. The people have risen up against this gigantic machine that is the recording industry. The next suite in this opus is to be written by them compose carefully, or it might be a swan song. Works Cited Boehlert, Eric. Napster will sponsor free summer tour for Limp Bizkit.
Salon: Arts and Entertainment Log (April, 2000): 3. Online Internet. 6 / 4 / 2000. Available: http: //www / salon . com / ent /log/ 2000 / 04 / 24 /bizkit nap ster Bruffey, Scott.
Talkback. ZDNet: News (May, 2000): 1. Online Internet. 6 / 4 / 2000. Available: web Home Recording Rights Coalition.
The Betamax Case. HRRC Newsletter (January, 1984): 2. Online Internet. 5 / 29 / 00. Available: web Lash, Jolie. Offspring Come to Napster's Aid. Rolling Stone.
com: News (April, 2000): 1 Online Internet. 6 / 10 / 2000. Available: web Recording Industry Association of America. Napster Lawsuit Q 038; A. RIAA, On deck. (May, 2000): 12.
Online Internet. 5 / 29 / 00. Available: web
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