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The Future Of Music Essay

1789 words - 8 pages

In 1998, a computer science major at Northeastern University, sat in front of his computer and started to create a program that would help the common man, spark controversy, and change and revolutionize the music industry. His name is Shawn Fanning, and his creation is Napster. Napster would forever change the way people would listen, share and acquire music, and the music industry would never again be the same.

Napster, launched early in 1999, allows Internet users to share and download MP3 files directly from any computer connected to the Napster network. The software is used by downloading a client program from the Napster site and then connecting to the network through this software, ...view middle of the document...

B. King, Dave Grohl, Ben Folds, U2’s Bono, and many more. Dave Matthews said this in defense of Napster:

“Napster: It is the future, in my opinion. That's the way music is going to be communicated around the world. The most important thing now is to embrace it, and that was the spirit by which we did this co-promotion.”

In all this talk and controversy the first action to be taken against Napster was by the band Metallica. In April of this year, they sued Napster Inc for copyright infringement. The case was settled out of court when Napster agreed to ban some 300,000 users who had allegedly downloaded Metallica songs. After the ruling Metallica made the follwing statement:

“From day one our fight has always been to protect the rights of artists who chose not to have their music exploited without consent. The court’s decision validates this right and confirms that Napster was wrong in taking not only Metallica’s music but other artists who do not want to be a part of the Napster system and exploiting it without their approval.”

Again in June, Napster Inc. was sued for copyright infringement by The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade group representing the US recording industry, alleging:

"Napster is… enabling and encouraging the illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted music".

Napster claims that ‘Audio Home Recording Act’ permits copying of material for personal use, allows its uses to swap MP3s. The trail on Napster’s ‘swapping’ technology has turned into a debate over the 1st amendment. Napster claims that their product should be covered by freedom of speech, the industry argues back saying that the freedom of speech doesn’t cover copyrighted material.

Other artists and record labels have responded to Napster and similar applications in a more positive way, embracing the new technology rather than rejecting it. On their website, the Offspring says:

“MP3 technology and programs such as Napster [are] a vital and necessary means to promote music and foster better relationships with our fans.”

Interestingly enough, the Offspring's last album, Americana, was made available online illegally before commercially released, yet it is the band's best-selling album to date. Furthermore, a number of surveys have proven that Napster users actually buy more CDs, after 'sampling' the songs online. It is this issue that is at the core of the RIAA lawsuit; whether Napster and similar programs will mean a drop in CD sales. Although Napster does challenge the traditional distribution of music (CDs, cassettes, etc), whether this should be viewed as a threat or simply a new medium to be exploited by the music industry is another issue. The fact that Napster is free and more convenient than visiting a record store makes it an appealing way to get music for consumers to get their music, rather...

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