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Napster, a music-sharing service

Napster is a music-sharing service that serves people with downloadable software for their computer and allows the download of almost any music from around the world. The Webster’s Universal and Thesaurus, says that the definition of music is: Music: harmony, melody, symphony. The basic idea of Napster is for anyone who wants to listen to music. However, the argument about Napster is that it is a directory service that allows users to transfer music files from music labels that have not signed a deal with Napster.

The music industry feels they are losing money because there are devices known as CD-RW and this allows for the burning of homemade compact discs with songs that Napster provides. Besides the music industry, there are bands that feel that due to Napster’s popularity; they are losing money that they work for. The music industry feels that if people are burning there own compact discs at a cheap rate then the music company are going to lose money. In the following paper I will discuss why people use Napster, why there is a problem with the use of Napster, and how the service can be used legally.

The idea of Napster was started by a freshman at Northeastern University in January 1999. In May 1999 Napster took shape as one of the most used computer software around. From the Napster web site you easily download the software. The software then connects you with millions of users who have the song you are searching for. After you find the song you can start the download process and download that song onto your computer. One negative aspect of Napster is that the songs you download mostly take a long time to download, depending on your connection speed, and take up a lot of space in your memory.

After you download the song you can then make your own compact disc if you have the right equipment that is. The equipment needed is a compact disc burner and the recordable compact discs. You then are able to distribute the songs and only have paid a fourth of the price that you would have paid if you had bought the compact disc from a music store (Napster). Many bands and music labels have sued the people behind Napster. The music industry is saying that Napster breaks copyright laws by allowing people to spread music without the proper authorization for usage.

In October 2000 at a court hearing, “the federal appeals court judges grilled attorneys for the recording industry… asking how record companies expect Internet music-swapping firm Napster to sift illegal files out of its system and why they have not prosecuted any of the companyrquote s millions of users (Tate)”. In this case, the courts see that Napster is a company that does not promote the illegal making of compact discs. The purpose of the site is not to cheat the music industry. The purpose of Napster is to create a network where people can share different songs and music (Tate).

Recently Napster has joined with a major media giant. Bertelsmannrquote s is a German giant in the media business. The German company has “formed a strategic alliance with the outlaw Internet service” on the thirteenth of November 2000 (Stone). Bertelsmann’s has loaned Napster fifty million dollars to help make a system that will benefit artists, songwriters, publishers and music labels. The system will require a fee of four dollars and ninety-five cents a month for the service of Napster. This amount of money will add up and will be divided among the artists, songwriters, publishers and music labels (Stone, Magid).

The small fee for the use of Napster has mixed reactions. Paul O’Toole is a friend of mine that I had interviewed and has had Napster since it has been available to be downloaded. He has a compact disc burner and enjoys not having to purchase compact discs. He was mad at the fact that the free service that he has been getting will soon cost him money (O’Toole). Many people agree with the feeling of O’Toole but they all agree that they would pay the fee. Gina Gentile is another friend that I have interviewed and has recently found Napster appealing to her needs.

She does not have a compact disc burner but still enjoys downloading her favorite songs. When asked to discuss her feelings on the fee she said that she expected that a service like Napster would not be free for long. Gentile feels that the millions of people who use the music service could make the difference in the lawsuits of today. She says the cost of the fee is acceptable and that a lot of the problems behind the legality of Napster would be solved if the music industry received some of the money that they feel they are losing (Gentile).

The deal with Bertelsmann and Napster have seemed to disappoint the forty million Napster users who have gotten use to getting their music free online. The deal, however, deserves praise. The deal preserves traditional protection for copyrights. If the deal is followed by the rest of the music industry, it would “allow Napster to develop its file-sharing technology without facing threats of being shut down or fined heavily for fomenting copyright infringement” (The Napster Deal).

Even though users will be charged for the music service, they will gain long-term benefits. The idea of protecting copyrights is an important to the public. The sharing of copyrighted material removes the feeling that encourages musicians to compose authors to write and newspapers to publish. However, ending Napster overall has never been the answer to this problem. “The Napster-Bertelsmann deal might only serve as a stopgap” (The Napster Deal), but that might be good enough. There is no solution known yet that would preserve copyright protection in this age.

The best alternative is to support copyright holders but still leave room for technological development. The idea of support for copyright holder and room for technological development is exactly what the Napster-Bertelsmann deal promises (The Napster Deal). To conclude, Napster was once a service that allowed people to download songs and music and did not promote or ban the burning of homemade compact discs for free. The advances in Napster soon will require a fee for the service that would then please the music industry.

The uses of Napster vary. Some use it just to listen to songs on their personal computer, however there are some that burn the compact discs and sell them, which is illegal, and that breaks copyright laws. In the end some people use Napster legally and some use it to make money. The control of Napster will produce a harmony between the music industry and the people who use Napster, so I say I am all for Napster and hope it is not shut down and I wish the creators good luck.

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