Question about laws pertaining to Napster.

A few weeks ago I posted a question asking for the name of a Napter alternative. JillGat promptly shut the thread down because it was promoting illegal activity. Well, from the seemy underbelly of the internet I came across Kazaa. This seems like a program backed by a serious company and was still allowing for the transference of files the Naptser had been told to stop. My question is, did the government simply put a Cease and Decist order on Napster, or did they actually make it illegal to transfer copyrighted material? The reason I ask is, why would this other company risk being hit with copyright lawsuits if it were illegal to actually transfer copyrighted files?

Transfering or sharing copyrighted material using a computer has been illegal ever since people started to share their software using floppy disks. Thus, Napster has been ordered by the courts to regulate what files are available to users through its service because copyrighted material was available to users. Any other companies or individuals that develop or back software that allows the transfer of (possibly) illegal content normally try to find safety from lawsuits using the logic that if they develop the software in a perfectly legal fashion they can not be held responsible. A similar situation is with extreme gun control, where some individuals would like to see the gun manufacturers held responsible for deaths by gunfire. So far gun manufacturers have been safe because logically they can not be held responsible for what someone does with their brand of gun (since the user has the option to use it legally or illegally). Napster has not been as lucky, though, because the courts found that Napster is responsible (to a certain extent) for what their users do with Napster’s software (use it legally or illegally). In other words, most other companies and individuals are hoping that, in the future, software developers will not be held responsible for what users do with their software (but as of now, it’s likely they will be).

So when I ask for a Napster alternative, Im not asking for anything necessarily intended for illegal activities, so mods, please dont shut down the posts.

File-sharing programs such as you’re asking about are GENERALLY used to pirate copyrighted works. So the threads WILL be shut down.

Lynn Bodoni
For the Straight Dope

Dear Cecil,
What does the first amendment entitle us too? Who will police the police? Do your mods make assumptions about how the information on how to stuff a human body will be used?

The first amendment entitles you to lease your very own T-1 line, buy your very own message board software, invest in your very own “hook” to attract customers and speak about whatever you darn well please and exclude discussions about whatever you darn well please.

Interestingly, it entitles the Chicago Reader to the very same things.

Hope that helps.

Do not push this. After the hacking last week, we’re all in a pretty shitty mood. It will take exactly one more piece of crap for you before you lose your posting privleges.

This thread is closed.