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English 11

Words: 1302

12/ 20/ 00

      Napster : Right or Wrong ?
     "As an artist, there are so many ways that we can be taken advantage of. To have yet one more way to stip an artist of making an honest living is just to much. That's why I sued." ( Levy, 51 )

- Andre Young ( Dr. Dre)

          There are many ways that an artist can be stripped of making an honest living, Napster, one

of the many 'Mp3' services online, is the latest. An Mp3 ( short for ISO-MPEG Audio Layer 3 ) is a digital

compression of a music or video file so it's easier to send to one another over the internet ( Levy, 51 ).

Napster is an online music source where you can search for a song and download it absolutely free, with just

one click from your fingertips.

          The Napster program, created by 19 year-old college drop out Shawn Fanning, is the fastest

growing site in history. It recently passed the 25 million mark in less than a year since it was released

(Greenfeld, 62 ). His program allows you to download copyright music, and that's why he is being sued by a

number of corporations. Napster is being sued by RIAA ( the Recording Industry Association of America ),

record companies ( BMG, the holder of lables like: Arista, Bad Boy, RCA, LaFace ), and artists ( Rock band

Metallica and Rapper/Producer Dr.Dre).

          "I'm down for a parallel business even if it's parasitic. Napster is the new radio. It's the most

exciting thing since rap, disco and the Beatles." said rapper Chuck D, and it did it is ( Levy, 51 ). Napster is

like a radio. You can listen to music and preview it for free. Some artists are actually for Napster like Chuck

D. , Neil Young, and rock group Limp Bizkit, who headlined a free tour sponsored by Napster along with

Cypress Hill. Napster is like a new radio. It's been said that people use Napster because they feel so


ripped off that compact disc prices are so high. They would rather just download the whole album online,

then burn it on to a cd spending only three dollars for a burned cd instead of the seventeen dollars spent for

buying the actual album. The generalized public that use Napster are young ( teenagers and college

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students, it was even banned in some colleges because they used school resources for the wrong reasons,

instead of using it for eduacation they used it for Napster ) it sort of means that young kids don't money,

having no money leads to no buying cd's, so their instinct is just download it of Napster and burn it.

Everyone knows that radio and network television are public domain. They think that it's alright to download

broadcast media from network television or radio on Napster. For example: You missed an episode of Jay

Leno last night and Christina Aguilera performed. You want to hear the performance so you decide to go to

Napster, search for it, and download it because you can't get the song anywhere else, but it's okay anyway

because that performance was on network television, public domain. In other words, do you pay for MTV,

VH1, HBO? Yes, but do you pay for radio broadcasting, NBC, ABC, Fox? No, it's public domain, therefore

it's free.

          Imagine that there was a Christina Aguilera made for television special on ABC, and you

record it for your own enjoyment, that's okay. If you record it, make one hundred copies of it, and sell it on

the street is wrong and that's why many are against Napster. There are some people that I know personally,

that download albums off the internet and sell them to their friends, and that is where the line is crossed. You

are taking copyrighted music and selling it to other people. It's something called copyright infringment,

which is a federal law. It's an obvious abuse of new techonology like high speed internet access ( the higher

the speed, the higher your connection is online, the faster you can download Mp3's), cd burners ( burn all

your Mp3's on to a disc and make a little profit by selling it to your friends) , and Napster itself as well as

other programs of its kind. The counterfeit cd's only benefit the bootlegger because the artist gets ripped off


and the consumer gets ripped off because they get a low quality product that will last up to 6 years at the

most. So why buy a blackmarket cd that won't last forever, when you can buy the real deal in stores for a

couple dollars more and it'll last forever. Most of all, Napster is depriving artists of what they do. They don't

do what they do for the hell of it, they do it because they love it and they do it for the people, but by selling

their cd's you deprive the artist of earnings they have worked hard for. It's as if music artists are working for

free because they are getting no money what so ever with this Napster case, and it's morally wrong. It's a

case of stealing artists "intellectual property". ( Ulrich, 54 )

          There are over twenty-five million users on Napster, imagine if each user downloaded one

album from Napster, that would be a whole lot of albums that could have been sold for the artist, but many

choose to just download it for free, not feeling guilty that they have just stole someone's intellectual property.

For each album sold, an artists gets a range from fifty cents to three dollars. So do the math: 25 million users

on Napster, if each user downloaded 1 album, that's 25 million cds. Let's say an artist makes two dollars for

each cd sold, that would mean that there goes 50 million dollars thrown right into the air. Napster has

changed the music world forever. They caused record companies to rethink their business tactics and

recording artists to be more defensive of thier intellectual property ( Greenfeld, 62 ).

          Along with Napster, there are many other online Mp3 sites such as: Gnutella, FreeNet, Scour,

and If Napster has 25 million users, think of the number of users Gnutella has, and FreeNet and

Scour.     It's absurd. ( Stone, 62 )     

          What if you were put in that position where you were an artist that had just came out wanted to

get a cd out, then he does, and he becomes famous and well known. You're on MTV, VH1, BET, CMC. Your

cd comes out, but Soundscan comes back with bad record sales. You find out that many users on Napster

had downloaded the whole album, wouldn't you be outraged? You don't know what they are doing with your



          If artists actually gave the "okay!" to let Napster have their songs being swapped online, then

everything would be okay, but artists haven't agreed to that. They should have the right to be payed

something out of the whole Napster ordeal. Napster should a service where you pay a monthly fee, and

there are certain artists that abide to have their songs swapped on Napster. The artists get some money for

their songs being downloaded and Napster the company get money for themselves as well, so it benefits

both of them. ( Stone, 56 )

          Napster users have to realize that free isn't forever. They have to realize that it won't be free

forever because of all the controversy, that in all fairness all parties, users, artists and Napster itself, should

benefit and one way this can happen is through the idea of paying a monthly fee for Napster. Users tried it for

free, and obviously they like it due to its overwhelming popularity. However all good things must end and

users must realize that they have just been given a priviledge, and not a right.
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