Is being wrongly sued for helping people swap MP3 files?

Is being wrongly sued for helping people swap MP3 files?

Their logic is they are just a browser, and browsers are protected from copyright violations of their users.

But, that seems to be the only use for the browser.

The music industry says if they (the industry) loses its suit, “the law will be changed in 8 minutes” since all the biggest conglomerates have TV, radio, and other interests that would die without solid copyrights on electronic copies.

I can’t believe that’s true or they would have started closing loopholes 8 minutes ago.

If a vote were held today, most congressmen would know there are more votes to be lost among audiofiles and websurfers than conglomerates. That is, the industry won’t call for new legislation if there is any chance they could lose an unpopular floor fight.

It’s sunny today in the RSA.

This is a very big lawsuit, with some pretty major ramifications in the music and internet biz. I do not know all the ins and outs of it, but I do know this : Napster is really only a middle man. They do not actually provide the MP3s, they simply act as a search engine connecting you with the song you are looking for. That said, I am not sure how they can be found at fault. There is however, a whole other issue here - and that is money. With all the MP3s and downloads and now CD burner technology, why would anyone pay for music they can get for free ? Sure this hurts the huge record industry conglomerates and that is not necessarily bad, but it also takes money of the artists pockets - and that is bad. So whats the answer ? I honestly do not know, but this problem is not going to go away anytime soon.

Napster is used to search for and trade files with the .mp3 extension. Not every mp3 is copyrighted. I could record a wav of myself making rude noises and singing showtunes, mp3 encode it, and trade it using Napster. Granted, 99% of the files users are trading are copyrighted, but that isn’t Napster’s fault.

Those who are kind enough to read my posts know I’m firmly on the side of intellectual property holders.

However, I don’t know where to stand on Napster getting sued. On the one hand, they’re not technically doing anything illegal.

I think ultimately they are a distributor, like a news-stand for example. A news-stand doesn’t make child pornography, but they are the best choke points that the law can find, so that’s where the squelching happens. I suspect that’s what’ll happen with Napster. The illegal distribution of theived property needs to be stopped, and Napster is the only place in the chain that it’s practical to do so.

Oh, and the fact that Napster is specifically designed to steal IP doesn’t help their case. I mean, yeah in theory you could move around MP3s of farts or bird-chirps or something, but that’s not reality. Reality is that Napster is built from the ground up to distribute stolen property, and that’s exactly what it’s real world usage is.

Why sue Napster?

Sue Cisco Systems the route of the evil!

“I shot the sherrif, I shot the deputy too. No, it wasn’t in self defense. They both looked at me cockeyed so I capped 'em. Then I shot the mayor, then the firechief, decapitated the librarian, impaled the dog catcher, used a spoon to remove the groundskeepers eyes and sent the leader of the local KKK in full KKK uniform to downtown Manhattan. Then I made sweet love to the sexy 18 yr old intern, and it was all good.”

Napster is being sued because they are enabling and encouraging the illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted music.

As the RIAA points out:
“Just because Napster itself may not house the infringing recordings does not mean Napster is not guilty of copyright infringement. Copyright law has long recognized that someone who materially contributes to infringing activity, with knowledge of that activity, is liable for copyright infringement as if that person did the copying him or herself.”

This isn’t the case of an ISP, which merely allows you to connect and where any infringement is only an incidental part of their services. Napster actively encourages the illegal trading of copyrighted material.

It’s as if someone were selling bootleg tapes by mail order. The seller may not be making the bootlegs, but he’s still liable for distributing them. The ISP would be in the position of the delivery service. (The fact that no money is exchanged with Napster is irrelevant; copyright violations don’t require money to be exchanged.)

Ultimately, Napster is attempting to make money by freely taking the work of others. They are doing, ironically, exactly what the independent artists complain the big record companies do. In fact, they are worse, since they will be making their profits without giving any compensation to the people who make those profits possible (a record company will pay their artists something).

“What we have here is failure to communicate.” – Strother Martin, anticipating the Internet.

Got a URL for that Ralph?

Say, your PC [not yours Ralph] can copy software. PC’s & Macs are the biggest illegal copy machines in the world. Microsoft makes the software so a PC can copy. Hmmm maybe they ought sue Mickeysoft too?

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It’s sunny today in the RSA.

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It’s sunny today in the RSA.

you from the Republic of South Africa ralphredan?

“I shot the sherrif, I shot the deputy too. No, it wasn’t in self defense. They both looked at me cockeyed so I capped 'em. Then I shot the mayor, then the firechief, decapitated the librarian, impaled the dog catcher, used a spoon to remove the groundskeepers eyes and sent the leader of the local KKK in full KKK uniform to downtown Manhattan. Then I made sweet love to the sexy 18 yr old intern, and it was all good.”

While I can’t disagree that many artists (and music execs and so forth) ultimately lose money, I have to add that sites like Napster are not always a bad thing for certain artists.

Speaking from the standpoint of a musician who hasn’t “made it” yet, one of the most important things when starting out is to be able to get your music into the hands (and ultimately ears) of as many people as possible. Napster provides a unique opportunity to spread your music around and make yourself heard.

Before you say it, yeah, I know that this isn’t how the majority of folks use the Napster site. Whatever, I’m neither condoning nor condemning their behavior. All I’m saying is, there is potential for this site (or a similar one) to be beneficial in spite of its copyright-laws-be-damned nature.

Well, what I think it is signalling is a change in the music industry.

How long have record companies sold albums of big music stars with only half of the songs planned to be liked and the other half just filler so the public will pay the $ for the CD?

Barring a greatest hits CD there is almost no CD (I am including albums, and cassettes as well) that I like the entire album. I usually just like a song or two.

I used to buy the 45 records and have bought a couple of casettes that only have two songs on them (the one you purchase it for and the one that goes on the other side). If the recording industry were to work a deal with a company like Napster, then maybe we consumers would purchase the songs we want for a small fee and do all the downloading from one site. Then we can play them on the computer, on the MP3 player, burn a CD or whatever. For the artists that want to give their songs away to build an audience, then they can do so.

I do believe that taking songs that are current and passing them around is wrong. Would you pay as much for an older song? How much would you pay for a song?

What about the fact that Radio stations play songs and we can record them and listen to them later? Radio stations are there to entertain their audience. I know the artists and music execs make some money off the Radio plays (not sure how that works), but has people taping songs off the radio killed the industry or has it potentially made it grow.

I have downloaded a few songs from Napster. Mostly songs that I already own on CD or 45 record but would rather download from Napster than pull off the CD or worse tape off the album and then record from the tape.


Not since the 1960s, when the Beatles protested via the butcher cover. The record companies don’t write the songs or determine which will be put on the album; the stars do. If you don’t like what’s there, it’s because the songwriters didn’t measure up.

This is an eminently reasonable solution to the problem, and one that the RIAA would be happy to implement. Napster, however, is not doing this, and no money is going to the artist. Worse, they’re building their business using the artists work – without paying them. That’s a worse screwing than any record company has ever done.

BTW, there is a legal precedent on the RIAA’s side. A few years ago, Kinkos was sued for allowing copying of copyrighted works. Kinkos lost big, and it’s certain that the RIAA’s lawyers are going to point to that case.

“What we have here is failure to communicate.” – Strother Martin, anticipating the Internet.

I do not disagree with you on the part that Napster is playing.

I was simply suggesting that the industry is changing and offering my view of a potential new music distribution industry that I would like to see.

As for the songs, I believe that many mainstream artists write songs that they figure will not be popular, partly because they are under a contract to produce a certain number of songs for a certain number of albums. The record execs are fine with this partly because why put all hits on one album? Spread them out over two or three.

Example, (note this occurs many years after the 1960s you mention) according to the VH1 behind the music for Vanilla Ice, the song “Ice Ice Baby” was supposed to be the flip side song that would never be played and one day a DJ flipped it and it became more popular than the song on the front side. Now it was not Ice who came up with this idea but his producers, if they did this for him this time how many other times has it happened?


And I’m agreeing that your model of a music distribution system would be a good one. It’s just not in place yet, and if people can get free music, it won’t ever get in place.

An artist would be an idiot to record a song he knew would not be popular. No one wants to be a one-hit wonder and if you fill an album with crap, there may never be a next album. I’ll admit that they may have to go with less-than-stellar material to fill out an album, but that’s nearly always because they don’t have anything better at the time the album is recorded. And there are only a few acts that can afford to wait until they have the material in order to record; you need to get a follow up into the stores or else people will forget about you. That’s often why second albums have a drop-off in quality: performers spend years developing material for their first album, but have far less time to do their second. The record companies may push for a schedule, but it for the ultimate profit of the musicians as well as the record company.

That’s a different situation. There are many instances where a DJ played the B side of a record and that became popular, but it’s nearly always the DJ, not the record company. It’s a crapshoot as to what will be popular.

In general, the artists choose the songs for the album. The record company determines which songs to release as a single. They might make suggestions (though that’s more likely to be the producer’s role), but the artist usually has the final say.

By the way, it’s not just the big, bad RIAA that is now suing Napster. See

“What we have here is failure to communicate.” – Strother Martin, anticipating the Internet.

I think there are already some services out there that allow you to purchase and download one song at a time. And I agree that this will change the face of the music biz quite a bit.

On a side note, I for one am a big fan of buying the entire album. Granted, sometimes the one song you heard on the radio is the only song you like… however, it works the other way too. A lot of my favorite songs have never appeared on the radio - what a shame if I had never heard them because I only bought the one song that I knew!

As for Napster, I wonder if they could put some sort of approval process in place. This would give them more control and better enable them to stop the inevitable attempts at copyright violation. Songs by new artists can be marked to be freely distributed. Everybody wins.

Barring that, maybe they can move their web site overseas or something :slight_smile:

Right… put differently, this means they are putting material that they know is not up to snuff on the album as filler, with full knowledge that these particular songs will probably not be hits, just so people will buy the CD’s.

Anyone who has an album that they have listened to and loved for years can attest to the fact that this is simply not true. If a band is forgotten, they were forgettable. Don’t give the marketing people more power than they already have.

This strikes me as also not true, although not ever having worked for a record company, I can neither confirm nor deny. Do you know this for sure through experience?

Hmm… I don’t know which side to be on here. On one hand, if there is a legal use for something, I don’t belive it should be banned. Plus CD prices are just getting out of hand.
On the other hand, Metallica is against it. If the greatest rock band ever doesn’t like it, how can I use it?
I am human, and I need to be loved
Just like anybody else does

More on Napster on Great Debates Forum

Soccer Mom, Pizza, Bridge, and not in that order

hell, why don’t we ban the mp3 format? as we all know, very few mp3 files are legal. and since the mp3 format facilitates the transer of illegal files (makes it a hell of a lot quicker), if we ban the format, people will be dissuaded from d/ling a huge file.

it’s like saying netscape should be charged with helping disseminate child pornorgraphy. well, of course they aren’t doing it themselves, and they aren’t hosting child pornography on their servers, but i can still find it with netscape. hell…just ban the internet…never saw child porn before the internet.

ps. i’ve never seen child porn. it was an example.