Shawn Fanning came out from backstage to present an award with a Metallica shirt on. It was one of the funniest moments of the entire award show. The reason it was funny is because Metallica is suing Napster. Shawn Fanning created Napster to make it possible to download music for free, and Metallica is trying to help destroy the program he made. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), many artists, and many labels are all combining to help get rid of Napster. The main dog in the fight is the RIAA. They have tried to work with the RIAA, but they only want to destroy the program. The number of people that use Napster has grown rapidly in the last few months because of the publicity the news has given it. If it weren’t for the RIAA suing them, most people wouldn’t have even heard of Napster. There are many programs like Napster on the Internet, but the RIAA has set its sights on the most popular one for now. I don’t see any reason to shut them down completely. The RIAA and Napster should combine and create a better place to find music on the Internet.
People that use Napster think that downloading music is a way of sharing. People get things for free by sharing all the time. Kathryn Balint says, “Ever since the advent of tape recorders, copy machines, and VCRs, people have been doing it, and sharing their copies with others” (A-1). The users of Napster say there are many reasons to use Napster. The accessibility of Napster is unbelievably easy. Most songs are even available before they come out in stores. Many of the people that download music are testing music, and buying it later. Downloading a song takes an average of about twenty minutes on a regular computer. There are many other things to do besides download music. You can chat with some of the friends you have made, or you can make new friends by going to the chat room that is for you. The type of music you like organizes the chat rooms. For example, if you like rap, you would join the rap chat room, or if you likes rock, you would join the rock chat room. It even has a hotlist, which lets you find out what type of music anyone has downloaded, and it helps you remember your friend’s username. The discovery part lets you find new artist that are trying to promote their music. Those are just some of the benefits of using Napster according to the people that use it. There are many reasons to have Napster; it’s not all about stealing from the RIAA.
According to the RIAA, if you are downloading songs from Napster, you are a thief. Kathryn Balint explains, “In another recent copyright case, the Recording Industry Association of America argued that since Napster started it lost more than $300 million in sales alone because of Napster” (A-1). The RIAA isn’t really worried about the money right now; they are more worried about the future. They hope the future will be Napster free because most of their profit comes from selling CDs, and if they continue to give away music, why would anyone want to buy music. Soon everyone will have a computer, and nobody will buy CDs. The RIAA points out that if the music made has no profit, talented singers will not want to create music. The future of music is in the hands of the courts for now. Trying to shut down Napster is going to be a never-ending battle. Even if Napster gets shut down today, another program will be introduced tomorrow. The RIAA hopes that shutting down Napster will make a law to end all pirated music.
The best way to resolve the battle between Napster and the RIAA is to create a program to make both sides happy. If both sides were getting paid, I’m sure both sides would be happy. Before the recording industry tries to destroy Napster, maybe they “should chip in and buy it” (Guterman 3). Destroying Napster would create one battle after another, and it would never end until the RIAA gave up. I think the RIAA should charge a monthly fee for downloads. I know a lot of people that would pay an amount of about twenty dollars for a month of downloads. “In a recent survey by Webnoise, the online research company, 58 percent of Napster users said they’d pay a monthly subscription fee for the service” (Segal A1). If most people will pay, why wouldn’t the RIAA want to try and make money off the new technology instead of destroying it? The new combined site could sell T-shirts, concert tickets, and more. There is no end to the amount of money they could make. The business sales would shoot through the roof because of the major increase of computer use. Every major sponsor would want to put its name on the site. The site could then have sponsors like Nike or Pepsi. The money the RIAA could make would be outrageous. Paying a monthly fee for music is the pathway of the future.
Ending Napster would only create one battle after another. It would never end until someone gives up. Guterman explains that Napster may end, but the knowledge it brought will never be stopped (2). If each side would help each other, they could come up with something great. The computer age is here, and it’s not going to end for a long time to come.
Balint, Kathryn. “Copyrights Take a Licking on the Net Frontier.” San Diego Union-Tribune 8 Sep. 2000, ed. 1,2,7.:A-1.
“David Boies: The Wired Interview.” Wired. 8 Oct. 2000: 18 Oct. 2000 http://www.wired.com/wired/archives18.10/boies.html.
Guterman, Jimmy. “Why Labels Should Love Napster.” The Standard 24 July 2000: 23 Oct. 2000 http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,16966,00.html.
Hartigan, Patti. “Napster Is Stirring Piracy Controversy.” Boston Globe 24 Mar. 2000, E1.
Huhn, Mary. “Music Biz: It’s War Web Sites Hit With Piracy Lawsuits.” New York Post 10 June 1997.
Mann, Charles C. “The Heavenly Jukebox.” The Atlantic Monthly Sep. 2000: 39-59.
“Napster Has History On It’s Side-Kind Of” U.S.News 9 Sep. 2000: 25 Oct. 2000 http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/000918/digital.b.html.
The New Copyright Law. Longwood, FL: Gary H. Becker, 1982, 1985, 1992.
Segal, David. “An Upside To Music Downloads Industry Smells Profit In Tunes Spread On Web.” Washington Post 22 June 2000, final ed.: A1.
Woody, Robert Henley, III., and Robert Henley Woody II. Music Copyright Law In Education. Bloomington, Ind.: Phi Delta Kappa. 1994.