Use of the Internet as a Tool for Piracy
The internet is an ever increasingly powerful tool for finding everything from entertainment to reference to daily news. When first created, the internet was only a shadow of what it has become. Most people didn't even have a computer, let alone a connection to the internet. In the last decade, however, computers have become more and more affordable, and internet service providers have become far more widespread. According to the World Almanac and Book Of Facts 2001 "By early 2000, more than 300 million people around the world were using the Internet, and it is estimated that by 2005, 1 billion people may be connected" (World Almanac). As with any new, powerful technology, the internet has brought with its positive aspects, a number of new problems which will have to be dealt with in the next several years.
One of the biggest controversies which has spawned from the popularity of the net is the piracy of music, software, and movies. In the past, piracy of music and movies was fairly small scale. The only way to make illegal copies of tapes was to dub them in a double tape deck. This process was slow enough that music companies and movie studios didn't really worry about it. With the advancement of technology, however, piracy has become as easy as burning a CD or downloading music from the internet. The ease with which people can get free copies of songs or movies, production companies have tried to crack down on piracy.
Piracy is the copying of copyrighted material without permission from the author. Because technology is always changing, there are no fail safe methods of preventing piracy. Soon after a new preventative method comes out, someone finds a way around it, making prevention a constant struggle to stay ahead. Nearly anything that can appear in a digital format can be pirated, from music to software to full length motion pictures. The type of internet piracy that has gotten the most attention is copying and trading music files. The most common type of music file that is traded online is an MP3. MP3 files are near CD quality, and take up significantly less hard drive space than other sound files such as WAV files. Because of the high quality and relatively small size, MP3s are ideal for downloading even with a low bandwidth internet connection. One of the reasons that stopping piracy of music is so difficult is that anyone who has a computer can easily download programs that turn songs from CDs into MP3 files.
Recently, piracy of music has been making headlines around the country. Music sharing program "Napster" is one of a number of programs designed to allow users to download music files from other users' computers. Napster provided a free, searchable network of computers with hundreds of thousands of MP3s on it at any given time. Because of its magnitude and popularity, Napster drew the attentions of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). The RIAA sued Napster...