On Monday morning, a Federal Appeals court ruled that Napster, the world’s leading file-sharing community, operated in direct violation of copyright laws.
The judges unanimously ordered Napster to remove copyright protected songs from its index when notified by record labels, publishers, and artists.
The opinion stated: “Napster users who download files containing copyrighted music violate plaintiffs’ reproduction rights.”
The judges further concluded that the music swapping service affects business markets for online distribution and audio CDs.
“Napster users get for free something they would ordinarily have to buy” the judges stated.
Tamara Jenkins, a sophomore disagrees.
“Napster does not keep me from buying CDs.”
She went on to say that she uses Napster to preview CDs before buying them.
“It’s a wonderful site,” she concluded.
“As a consumer it’s [Napster] good,” Joi Brown, a sophomore added. “If I was an artist [however], I would be upset with Napster’s practices.”
Upon hearing the courts decision, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) celebrated yet another victory for major record labels.
Chief executive and President Hilary Rosen stated ” It is time for Napster to stand down and build their business the old fashioned way.”
According to Inside.com, the RIAA has already notified Napster of 12,000 copyrighted songs that are being swapped by over 50 million users.
Napster is running out of time as well as options.
A threat of a temporary shut down is possible because Napster currently lacks the technology to police file sharing among its community members. And the court’s injunction demands such regulation immediately.
Napster lawyers will continue to argue that current technology cannot be used to monitor users as well as its legal battles according to Napster CEO Hank Berry.
“Napster users are not copyright infringers (sic) and we will pursue every legal avenue to keep Napster operating.”
Berry also urged Napster members to voice their concerns to representatives in Congress. This could foreshadow Napster’s debut in the United States Supreme Court.
An immediate solution to Napster’s legal troubles; however, may rest with a subscription service.
A subscription service would pay labels, artists, and publishers and ensure that songs would not be distributed illegally.
According to Reuters, Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff, (Napster’s parent company) suggests “a subscription model, with a real working digital rights management system” by summer 2001.
Middelhoff is confident that the Napster community would be willing to pay for music.
In agreement, Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning acknowledged the development of “a Napster service [that] makes payments to artists”
A college representative for Napster who could not comment on specific questions disagreed. She stated that details for a subscription service are sketchy.
Nevertheless, an evolution of Napster’s service is underway.