MP3 File Sharing and the Future

1979 Words8 Pages
Abstract: This paper discusses the ethical and legal issues of online sharing of MP3 music files. The technology exists to effectively distributes music to consumers, and the recording industry is trying to stop this practice as they fear that they will lose revenue. Many artists, whose music is being shared, support the technology. By working together, on-line file-swapping companies and the recording industry could revolutionize the way music is distributed to consumers.

Everyone who uses the Internet has heard of some way to swap MP3 files back and forth. A lot of people who don't even use the Internet have heard of Napster, Scour, Aimster, Gnutella, etc. Why is this? Napster has gained a lot of notoriety lately, but how could one computer program written by a teenager become so popular? This college dropout's program makes it very easy to listen to your favorite music for free, and this has the recording industry up in arms while many artists are pro-Napster.7 In the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, the U.S. Government declared it legal to share music, and make recordings of it, as long as it is not used commercially or to make a profit. The recording industry could benefit from Napster's distribution model, and Napster could benefit from the copyrights of the major record labels. Both the recording industry and Napster could benefit from working with one another while revolutionizing the way music is distributed to consumers.

Surfacing in late 1999, Napster is a relatively new Internet service that could be considered a "listen before you buy it" service. Napster was developed by an eighteen year-old college freshman, Shawn Fanning, as a way to share files on the Internet, specifically digital MP3 music files. The old way of getting music by going to the store and buying a CD before hearing all the songs on it is long passed. The new way of shopping for music is to listen to all of the songs on the CD before purchasing it. This is also done by most of the large retail chains as they permit you to listen to the latest music that is for sale in their store. Online music stores also allow you to listen to certain songs from the album before you buy it via the Internet. However, the difference here is that with Napster, the music can be played over and over again, and the recording industry claims that this would be a reason not to buy the album as it is already archived on your hard drive.

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