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File Sharing And Online Piracy: How Does It Effect Copyrights? Is It Ethical?

1914 words - 8 pages

As you upload the most recent (and most spectacular) new Lady Gaga album Art Pop into your ITunes Library, you scale back and take a long look at your devoted collection. You’ve collected nearly 2000 songs, 150 movies, and 200 books. From the Beatles to Deadmau3, Miley Cyrus to Nirvana, you have every type of music you could possibly imagine. Worst of all, you don’t even listen to a tenth of it! You’ve collected all this media for an outrageous price too: Absolutely Nothing. After 2 and half years of constant file sharing through Limewire, Frostwire, and Vuze, You’ve easily transcended beyond a four or five thousand dollar threshold of Pirated Media. In the end though, your actions do come with a cost. When the federal government discovers your malicious activity, you’re charged with thousands of dollars in copyright infringement fines, court case settlements, and more years in federal prison then you could have ever imagined. “What have I done wrong? Am I really hurting anyone?” you ask yourself. Peer-to-peer file sharing is nearly a 15 year old action that creates a connection between computers across the world to share any types of files and information. The creation of Napster in 1999, drastically lower music sales, laws against theft in the United States, and a growing understanding of the file sharing world all contribute to one shared idea: File sharing a torrent downloading is entirely unethical because it takes money away from the rights holders of media and abuses their rights to their own intellectual property, and is a blunt act of theft and dissidence for the law (Old Napster).
Napster was the original peer-to-peer file sharing service that was released in 1999 so that people could share the music files they had on their computers with others. A downloader’s computer would establish a connection with other computers (or “peers”) and begin downloading the files from other computers (HowStuffWorks). The software quickly caught the attention of college students and internet users everywhere, as they now had a nearly flawless way of getting music without paying for it. But as the Software’s popularity grew, so did the anger of record labels and music artists. These individuals received no benefits from Napster because people were no longer purchasing their music. These companies and individuals felt that copyright laws were being broken and that their intellectual property was being stolen from them. Napster’s response derived from the information written in the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. This essentially stated that the music that these file sharers owned was their own property since they paid for it. Therefore they had every right to share it with whomever they wanted to (Audio Home Recording Act). But in 2000, Napster officially lost their lawsuit against the famous metal band Metallica. Whom sued them (among MANY others) for copyright infringement (Old Napster). Legal or not, however, Napster has most definitely effected...

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