Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sharing Is Against The Law

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Peer-to-peer file sharing over the Internet was thought to be the wave of the future by many computer experts. When peer-to-peer file sharing technology was developed, record label executives didn’t know what to think; the leaders of the music industry thought that music as a marketable part of the economy was finished. Since the leaders of the music industry figured that most people have a computer nowadays, anyone could download music from the Internet for free. If everyone could download music for free and purchase the technology to burn their own CDs, no one would buy a CD from the store ever again. What was once a fantasy became a reality and put fear in the eyes of record executives. The leaders of the music industry believed the development of file sharing technology was their doom because they couldn’t create enough revenue to stay in business. Music label executives were outraged that the government allowed free music to be downloaded from the Internet. So the record labels took legal action against Napster. The record industry executives ended up winning the trial and Napster was shut down. It turns out that even though Napster ran successfully for many months the music industry remained financially healthy. Peer-to-peer file sharing capabilities, such as Napster, should be allowed to operate on the Internet because it creates world wide recognition, strengthen the economy, and make the music industry more successful.

The dispute between Napster and the music industry went on for many months. The reason nothing was done about Napster in the begining is because there weren’t any laws to protect the music industry from this kind of technology. The only hang up that the government found with Napster’s service was they detected unlawful use because Napster was keeping files downloaded to their own server from various users. The reason Napster chose to operate this way wasn’t to disregard authority or infringe on copyrights, but to make files easy to download for users. The government stated that Napster was harboring songs on their servers illegally. Instead of the end user being to blame, Napster was held responsible because they were the only ones that controlled what was downloaded to their servers. Napster was set up with three gigantic servers that served the entire world. When users signed on to Napster their music files were then downloaded to Napster’s server for other users that happened to sign on to that particular server to download. Since Napster’s servers were the direct sources that users were downloading from, the government passed a law that stated a company has no right to distribute songs to other users without prior written permission or else they would be subject to penalties of copyright infringement.

To avoid copyright infringement file sharing companies started to play dumb. The only difference between Napster and file sharing applications today such as WinMx, Blubster, and Morpheus, is that the applications allowed today are not downloading directly from the companie’s servers. The way that the government is allowing free file sharing to go on now is that the parent company can ONLY provide the application, not the servers. This means that the users are only using the capabilities of that particular application. This allows users to download and upload files directly from other users. These two concepts sound similar, but the government ruled that only the companies servers couldn’t be downloaded from. Instead the new versions of today only allow users to download directly from other users. This is said to be legal because there is no way the law can stop every little person from sharing over the internet because that would be impossible. The government will only prosecute the companies because the Government has the right to regulate them.

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The verdict brought against Napster is unjust. The Government’s job isn’t to pass laws in order to stifle the creativity of Americans, but to provide equal rights for everyone. The only reason that Napster should have rightfully been abolished is if the Government saw this situation as immoral. However, developing the technology to share files on the internet should be greatly rewarded, not taken away. The only thing wrong with the great technology developed by Napster is its controversy over moral standards, not unlawfulness. Therefore, the Government shouldn’t have abolished Napster.

Not only is file sharing morally wrong but the leaders of the music industry say that people who engage in file sharing are stealing money from the music artists. This is a far fetched idea because we can dub cassettes and they don’t have any objection to that. There was one instance where I thought someone took this technology a little bit too far. A close personal friend of mine, let’s call him John Doe, actually sold homemade cd’s that he had downloaded from the internet. John created a system when it came to downloading music from the internet. Before he left for school in the morning he would download people’s entire songlists. Since he had DSL, he highlighted everyone’s name and left his computer downloading the entire time he was t school so none of his time was wasted. After he had accumulated thousand upon thousands of songs he decided to make songlists. Being that John’s dad worked for a printing company it was free and didn’t put any wear and tear on his printer. He made about 100 songlists of every song that he downloaded and distributed to people that wanted “burned “ cd’s. he made a stipulation that only 5 dollars a cd with the maximum of 15 songs. The first couple of weeks John couldn’t keep up with all the sales. As he downloaded more songs and made more songlists he decided that just one school wasn’t enough anymore. He tried to move his business into other schools. He had people he knew in almost every catholic highschool in St. Louis. The way John encouraged people to distribute songlists and collect money for him was to cut them a deal and make them CDs for a dollar a piece. This business went on until people caught on to his game and started buying CD burners for theirself. The downloading of John’s music and the printing & distribution of his lists didn’t cost a thing. The blank CDs John acquired were from his mom (she worked at a computer technologies warehouse) so they were free too. John worked at circuit city because he was given discounts on merchandise and free computer upgrades. Close to graduation Senior year of Highschool a couple of people were curious at how much he actually brought in during his business. He saved all his sales in a Microsoft Excel file so he had numbers according to year. The total amount of money that was illegally collected rounded off to about 0,000 dollars a year. That means that his grand total over the course of his business was 80-0 thousand dollars.

This was only one instance where someone took full advantage of this free technology. Imagine of all the money throughout the Unites States that was made illegally and should’ve went to record labels and music artists. I would be a little mad also if I knew that my hard earned money was going to someone else just because he had a computer with internet access and a cd burner. Its awful to steal people’s money because it is both dishonest and immoral. The real reason the record industry executives don’t want people to share files over the Internet is because the users are getting something for nothing. But it turns out that the users arent getting something for nothing because the users provide music artists with perks that wouldn’t have been without file sharing over the internet.

The process of file sharing over the internet creates recognition for all whos music is avaliable to download. Music artists that are only famous in America have a chance at becoming world wide celeberties. Converting to a world wide celeberty from a local celeberty provides artists with opputnunitites at more concerts, more CD sales, and travel the world while doing what they love. This will eventually bring them more income as well. Its worth risking CD sales in America because the revenue from world wide CD sales will make it all worth while. Also, artists that are famous among foreign countries may not be heard in America. File sharing may also develop a link between foreign artists and their success in America. Before Napster made file sharing popular, the chances of hearing an artist from a foreign land was unheard of. So not only does this help artists in the U.S., but it helps those from around the world as well. Along with foreign artists becoming famous in America, a different genre of music altogether may be adopted by the U.S. A different genre of music doesn’t always have to be different in terms of stylistic content, but it can be as simple as music from another language. This may help to inspire new artists of all languages. It was pretty selfish for the american music industry to cut this technology off because file sharing would have tremendously helped music world wide, not only in America.

Not only do artists who have already established theirself in the music industry have anything to gain, but the little people as well. Not small in stature, but small in recognition. Many small music bands and groups have earned a chance in the spotlight due to word of mouth through Napster. This gives the talented artists that have not yet been discovered a chance at success. File sharing isnt the only form of publicity, but it is free and efficient. It is a perfect way for a local group to get heard by a prestogeous record label. Since the local group doesn’t have enough money to advertise, file sharing over the internet provides publicity for free. Even if it only allows a group a local performance in front of a minimal crowd, it is step up. If a group performs in the right place at the right time, they might end up being seen by a scout who can refer them to a record label. Along with a local band being made successful, local labels have a chance to be seen also. A local label that produces local talent may hit it big also. The scouts in the music industry are always looking for labels to produce local talent that has never been heard before. This will help promote new faces in the music industry which will lead to fufilling get rich quick dreams. All the new money that is being made and harvested will end up right back in the economy and strengthen it.

A new trend with file sharing will help the economy not only in a way from a music artists standpoint, but also a business point of view. File sharing has a sole componant; computers. Computers are a luxery item and quickly becoming a necessity. File sharing will increase the sales in computers. Not just any computer because in order for a computer to run efficiently and download files to its hard drive it must have minimum specifications. This includes a gigantic hard drive, more ram, larger buswidth, and faster internet connections. All of these custom specifications cost more than a regular computer. With an increase in computer sales comes an increase in “plug-N-play” adaptions like a CR-Riter. A CD-Riter, otherwise known as a CD-R, cost a pretty penny also and compliments the sales of blank CDs too. Along to compliment a superior computer sales, many people are moving to high speed internet conncetions such as DSL, cable, Satalite, and T. These connections are not a one time purchase either, one has to pay every month to keep it connected and the prices range from thirty to one hundred and fifty dollars a month. All the money spent and even the creation has to pay thanks to file sharing. Without these advances in technology, file sharing would be next to useless and a waste of time. The creation of file sharing has opened the door to many new breakthroughs in computer technology. With these breakthroughs, the world will evolve in to a more technology based society and bring inventions to the next level; things that were never dreampt possible.

Regardless of how many people took advantage of this technology, the initial money lost in this market isn’t signifigant enough to hurt the music industry. The positive aspects of this situation outweigh the negative aspects by a long shot; in favor of the music industry. Since the idea of the record industry executives to abolish Napster, the popularity of music has declined. The action from the record industry toward Napster gave the record industry a bad name. All of a sudden record industry executives assume that record sales would plumit due to the operation of Napster. Although this thought is logical, the rationale behind it isn’t there. It wasn’t there because if it were, then the record industry would have sat down and thought of all the pros and cons to their actions. This is an example of the record industry trying to fix something before the problem has started. Among other reasons, I believe that greed plays the biggest role in their decision to get rid of Napster. The record industry has been price gouging for years; someone finally had enough and took it into their own hands to provide a solution. Now that we, as a society, have leveled the playing field the record industry can’t take it and “threw a fit.” The music industry didn’t wait long enough to see what kind of impact Napster would have made in the long run, and that’s where they lost the battle. If anything, the record industry should have paid Napster to stay in business because it would’ve made the record indistry more successful.

Napster brought the avalibility of music to an all new high. Since swaping music files is free, just about everyone in the world had access. Not to get caught in a “Slippery Slope”, but the more music that Napster made avalible for the public, the more people are prone to listen. People don’t only listen to their favorite genre, but the idea of file sharing has opened a whole new realm of possiblities for music that one might enjoy. For example, I enjoy Rap and Rock, but once Napster made music avalible I have never heard before I was interested in sampling. Now I listen to a style of music classified as techno. I would have never thought techno would be my music genre of choice. Since the avalibility of music has increased, there has also been an increase in record sales as well. Had the record industry taken these factors into account, they might have seen that their hasty decisions to abolish Napster ended up costing money instead of protecting it. Another direction the record industry might’ve gone, if only to save its good name, is to be a mediator instead of the bully in the market. If the record industry would have played it safe and not stirred up a big ruchus, they would be doing better than ever right now.

The problem that most people see about the lawsuit filed against Napster was that the technology was intellectual property and they had no right to take it away. I agree, but it did look bad from the artists perspective too. That’s why the leaders of the music industry need to reach a compromise withfile sharing applications. If the executives of the record labels would have reaches a compromise from the beginning, it wouldn’t have been that hard because nobody developed an opinion about the situation yet. One way that leaders from the music industry could have met halfway would be to sell the copyrights of various songs to the applications, so that both parties can get something out of it.

Another way to compromise, already thought of by Apple computers, would be to charge a flat rate for each song that is downloaded. Apple has just introduced its new software called iTunes. It is just like the original fils sharing application, Napster, but since it has a price on the song, it is allowed. Not only are the songs only cents each, this software allows the user to burn the songs unlimitedly to CDs for personal use. This is an attempt to lure people away from the file sharing internet services that are free, and blamed for slumping CD sales.

Another easy way to produce a solution between the executives of the music industry and file sharing users is to subscribe to a monthly service that costs a fixed amount each month that the user wishes to download songs from the internet. Attached to that monthly fee will be an unlimited amount of songs and downloading time. This seems to be a feasible and legal solution to a complex and drawn out battle.

The most attractive way to present legal file sharing capabilities would be to have a reputable company to sign an agreement with the record labels for free use of all their songs. The user should be able to pick which plan he/she would like to follow though. Give users choices like, either pay per song, or by the byte that you download. Maybe to offer a monthly subscription or charge them a flat rate for the time they actually spend downloading songs. Another choice could be to pay extra for complete security from virus’. If the company gives the user choices, then they feel like thay are in control. It makes a person feel better when he/she is able to customize their own application. If a user is faced with a decision to pay an outrageous monthly fee and they only download one or two songs a month it wouldn’t be worth it. So, not only for comfort reasons but quality as well.

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