MEDIA: Media Watch - Napster cheats death, but the prognosis isn’t good

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.

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

obsolete.’



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

copyrights.



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

26).



Reports following the reprieve reiterated that ultimately, the law is

most likely going to work for the recording industry, not for

Napster.



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

the industry.



Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be found

at www.carma.com.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in