Debate on Napster

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Debate on Napster

The Napster software, which launched in 1999, allows people to share digital music

files (MP3) between each other. This Internet program has sparked a historical debate about

copyright law and the Internet. Copyright owners strongly believe that “sharing” these files

via Napster is “stealing”(TIME).

Downloading music against the wishes of an artist or producer is breaking the law.

Some believe that it is not stealing or illegal. They are just making a copy of someone’s

song. In the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 it says “……promote the Progress of Science

and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right

to their respective Writings and Discoveries…..” (Constitution). This led to copyright law,

which gives artists the exclusive rights to their music from the moment of its creation until,

generally 70 years after the artist dies (Michigan Review). There may not be respect for the

copyright law, but it is still breaking the law.

According to the Michigan Review, in areas around college campuses and

universities, CD sales have dropped 4%. In 2000, retail CD sales at stores near colleges with

high Napster use are actually below 1997 sales (Michigan Review). That is a huge reversal

in an area that usually sees high demand for music. Also according to the Michigan Review,

CD sales are up 16% across the nation. How can Napster be a bad thing if it is helping the

record industry? Maybe some people buy CDs based on what they hear on Napster, but for

most college students Napster has the opposite effect. Colleges and universities have been

hotbeds for sharing of online music files by a variety of methods for many years. All

Napster and similar tools have done is make this sharing of files much easier (Newsweek).

There are no in-betweens here. In all fairness to the artist, one should make a choice.

They should buy it or delete it from their computer. Some people might not like a song

well enough to want to pay for it so they feel like no one is losing a profit. If one does not

like a song well enough to buy it, they should not even be listening to it. However, consider

this scenario in defense of a Napster user. What if someone only wants one song on a $20.00

CD? Is it fair for the Artist to in essence be charging that person $20.
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