The Music Fans vs. The Music Industry

Essay by msbonnielaneUniversity, Bachelor's July 2004

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Is downloading songs off of Napster morally acceptable?

I. Utilitarianism

II. Deontological

The court ruling violates Napsters First Amendment right of free speech. An order to shut down Napster would "silence the entire Napster community", violating the users free speech rights as well.

Napster has not violated any laws. "Users are not direct copyright infringers because they are covered by the immunity granted by the AHRA, Audio Home Recording Act." This act explicitly allows unlimited copying for personal use. Section 1008-immunizes all non-commercial consumers copying of music in digital or analog form.

III.         Decision

Its always been said that if you build a better and more sophisticated rat trap, you only develop a better, even more sophisticated rat. The same goes for Napster. If you shut Napster down, the servers--which were streamlined under the Napster umbrella--won't stop working. In fact, downloading will continue on with little or no "hiccup" from Napsters' doom.

Now users will just seek out a bigger and better Napster copycat.

File swapping is no different than copying a VHS tape or burning a CD with a CD burner, or even using a copy machine to copy pages out of a book. All three are a form of copyright infringement, yet is covered under the AHRA as legal as long as it's for personal use. Shawn Fanning, creator of the Napster "monster", isn't responsible for what users do with the information pulled off of his server. If so, does it also mean that I can sue the Nissan car company if someone runs their Sentra into my living room? No. The car company is not liable after the consumer takes the vehicle. So should it be for companies such as Napster.

Another approach to "place blame" would be to look at the companies who make the machines...