The music almost died for Napster when a federal judge ordered the music-sharing Web site to block access to all copyrighted songs or shut down by July 28th. And while an eleventh-hour reprieve was granted that delayed the injunction, the media continued to surmise that the law is on the recording industry’s side.
The music almost died for Napster when a federal judge ordered the
music-sharing Web site to block access to all copyrighted songs or shut
down by July 28th. And while an eleventh-hour reprieve was granted that
delayed the injunction, the media continued to surmise that the law is
on the recording industry’s side.
According to research by CARMA International, most reports pointed out
that file sharing over the Internet is here to stay. Other companies,
such as Scour.com, and software, such as Gnutella, could be additional
targets for lawsuits, but the technology they provide to consumers is
not going away. ’There will always be a Napster, whether it’s out in the
open or hidden,’ read one AOL posting cited in USA Today (July 27).
Nearly as many reports discussed the ramifications these events have for
future intellectual property law and the Internet. Technology will make
policing copyright infringement more difficult, but media coverage
suggests the ruling shows a commitment by the courts to apply offline
laws to the Internet as well. The Los Angeles Times (July 27) reported:
’It signals that courts are prepared to enforce traditional copyright
laws at a time when some believe technology is poised to make them
As past CARMA research predicted (PRWeek, May 22), few could deny that
Napster would be shut down, because the company was not simply assisting
in the sharing of files but knowingly helping users infringe on
Adam Powell, CEO of music-oriented site AngryCoffee, said: ’Napster is
treating its database as its private property. But it’s not Napster’s
property. It’s a list of pirated music’ (Wall Street Journal, July
Reports following the reprieve reiterated that ultimately, the law is
most likely going to work for the recording industry, not for
Many reports quoted recording industry lawyers and executives saying
Napster had cost the industry millions. However, equal weight was given
to Napster’s defense that it is simply enabling consumers to copy files
for personal use.
This led many journalists to note that the recording industry needs to
accept this technology and try to catch up with it rather than challenge
it in court. As San Francisco music producer Steven Roback put it, ’I
don’t think Napster is the problem. The problem is the glacial pace of
the record companies in adapting to the reality of the Web’ (San
Francisco Chronicle, July 27).
The media expanded on this by reporting that the record industry could
actually take advantage of what Napster is doing because it helps to
create a larger awareness of music. Some research presented at trial
showed that Napster users were more likely to purchase music than those
who didn’t use Napster; record industry executives recognized this
logic. ’Clearly, people who are using Napster love music. They’re
probably our best customers,’ admitted RIAA president Hilary Rosen
(Orlando Sentinel, July 27).
Napster does not appear to have much hope of prevailing in this lawsuit,
but until the recording industry becomes a part of the new economy, this
technology will likely plague copyrighters and continue to clash with
Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be found