Napster Essay

981 words - 4 pages


No issue in recent American history has produced more controversy than of the origins of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. In particular, historianThe Record Industry Association of America, RIAA, sued Napster founder Shawn Fanning, on April 28 of this year for copyright infringement. The RIAA is the trade group that represents the companies and people making creative works in the record industry. The RIAA works to protect the intellectual property rights worldwide and the first amendment rights of an artist. The RIAA seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as statutory damages for the willful copyright infringement. The technology known as "Mp3" or "P-to-P" permits rapid and efficient conversion of compact discs recordings to computer files, and by passes any bottlenecks or legal problems, by providing its access over the Internet. But to utilize this software, Shawn Fanning had to personally copy the recordings onto Napster's computer servers so as to be able to replay the recording for its subscribers; this was his fatal flaw. Fanning had to purchase some forty-five thousand compact discs, most of which copyrights are owned by record companies and yes the Napster made unauthorized copies of CD's and allowed his website users to listen and download those unauthorized copies thru his software. Although the Napster seems to portray its service as the "functional equivalent" of storing its users' CDs, in actuality it is replaying for the subscriber a converted version of the recording it copied. On its face, this makes out a presumptive case of infringement under the Copyright Act of 1976. In the case the defendant, Napster, argued that such coping is protected by the affirmative defense of "Fair Use"; under such a defense, a judge must consider four specific factors. One being, the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or if it is for nonprofit educational purpose. Secondly, the nature of the copyrighted work, then the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and finally, the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. Other relevant factors may also be considered, since fair use is an equitable rule of reason to be applied in the light of the overall purpose of the Copyright Act.
Regarding the first factor, the purpose and character of the use. Napster is obviously a commercial website, even though it is not currently charging a fee it attracts a sufficiently large user base for future advertising purposes, its only source of profits. Now, when considering the first factor, a judge must define whether the new use is essentially repeat or instead transformed by changing it with meaning, new understanding, or the like. In this case Napster provides a transformative space shift by which subscribers can enjoy the sound recording contained on their CDs without lugging...

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