Battle Over Napster
hail as a symbol of "Generation Next" ingenuity and the
"freedom of the Internet" has ended in a landmark federal
appeals court ruling that will have a dramatic effect on intellectual
property rights and the sharing of music on the Internet.
For 18 months,
Napster has been one of the hottest sites on the Internet. Claiming
more than 50 million users, Napster allows anyone with a modem and
a CD burner to download all the free music they want from other
"Napsters" sharing music on the site from their home collections.
This type of music-sharing permits users to avoid the costs of buying
new CDs from a record store, and musicians who support the site
say it enables them to avoid the bureaucracy of the major record
labels in getting their music out to the public.
would appear the party's over. Record companies sued Napster, claiming
that its music-sharing service facilitates wholesale copyright infringement.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently agreed, saying
a preliminary injunction is "not only warranted, but required."
What began as
a battle now has both sides talking compromise. BMG Music recently
invested in Napster, and plans are underway to develop some sort
of legitimate, subscription fee-based site with the support of major
record label companies.
are already variations of free music copying schemes popping up
on the Internet, intellectual property rights advocates are breathing
a sigh of relief. The challenge now will be for the record companies
to find additional ways to distribute their music online to reduce
incentive to illegally pirate their material.
The U.S. Congress
wants to make sure they move fast in doing so. Senator Orrin G.
Hatch (R-Utah) recently warned that some in Congress may consider
stripping the music industry of some of its Internet copyright privileges,
if they don't soon come up with a way to make it easier for consumers
to download songs over the Internet.
Congress, one option might be the creation of a special, compulsory
license, allowing Web sites to sell music online without the permission
of the record companies. The Web site would have to make a royalty
payment to the music label for each song or album sold. Why Internet
music should become a Congressionally mandated new entitlement is
anyone's guess, but stay tuned. The battle
The Return of Napster
those of you logging on to Napster over the past several weeks
you may have heard something startling: Silence... [more]
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