As a democratic society (which I have found is very easy to blur along with communism), don't we, the people, have a right to voice what should be legal and what should not? I am not defending stealing copyrighted material.

A lot of us are genuinely pissed because the music industry (namely the RIAA) has given us bullshit. They've pined about how the artists get screwed over, when really, it's the music industry that keeps the profit. The artists see very little of their hard work come back to them. Sure, Metallica can speak because they have sold MILLIONS of albums. Their livelihood is at stake, whereas smaller artists must turn to other sources of income just to keep putting out the music we love. Artists have complained about the "ruthless" music industry for years. As an artist, this angers me. As an American citizen, it angers me all the more. Still, I am not defending stealing.

Who has the choice here? The American people or Corporate America? ...

Often, times move in directions that make us uncomfortable. That's the sting of change. Culture shock, even. Money is becoming less powerful than the intellect of the individual. Corporate America won't go down without a fight.
Just because something is illegal, does not make it wrong. People generally ignore unjust laws, if they can (see: The War on Some Drugs), and these silly copyright laws are unjust.

Besides the moral justifications, it isn't possible to shut down Napster. Even if they shut down the commercial server, there are lots of independant ones around.
DMan, by your logic, it would be wrong for someone with a photographic memory to read a book. Copying isn't stealing.
bigmouth_strikes, are you insane? Are you aware of the fact that the Nazi party was democratically elected? No system of government is perfect, and neither are the laws they pass.
I can't see how Napster is illegal. Napster is as far as I know a program/service that facilitates the exchange of files, specifically music files. It can be used legally, and everything else is abuse.

Of course the people behind Napster know that it is being used for illegal purposes, but that is not the issue, really, even though some attorneys want to give that impression. Shutting down Napster won't do any good, of course. There are already other programs out there that help people exchange their illegal files, whether it be music, pr0n or divx movies.

This is, unfortunately, the same thing as DMan refers to; the good ol' gun freaks slogan: Napster isn't stealing music, people are stealing music. This, however, could be a fair reason for shutting down Napster.

I disagree with the ShadowNode "Just because something is illegal, does not make it wrong". I think it is indeed wrong, at least in a democracy.
I agree with Shifted that we should voice what should be legal or not. But we should not act upon it!
I don't agree with DMans argumentation, but I can see how a shutting down of Napster is well motivated by the fact that it's mostly used illegally.
Let me tell you kids a little story, about a man named Chuck D (I'm sure you hip college kids know who he is). Well, in 1998, he left Def Jam records over a dispute with them because Chuck D posted Public Enemy mp3's on their official website. So ol' Chuck ditched out on his contract and looked to the internet. Chuck D went and formed his own label, Rapstation. They can be found . Their focus is of course, internet distributing of albums, as opposed to going the label/distributor route. Well, Rapstation has been around for a little over a year, and Chuck D has sold maybe 5,000 albums, but you know what? In the timespan Chuck D has been distributing his albums via the internet, he's made more money for himself then he did the entire time he was on Def Jam. And he sold millions of albums on Def Jam! Public Enemy made Def Jam what it is today.

You know why he made more money on the internet? Because label musicians get maybe 10 cents per album sold in the record stores. You have to go triple platinum over the course of four or five albums to get rich off that. Like Madonna, or Prince, the King of Pop. 98% of the bands out today make ALL their money not from royalties, but from signing bonuses. Of course, they can be reimbursed from the label at any time, should the company feel contractual obligations have been breached.

It doesn't take a fucking GNU/Linux geek or a fuckin' Rocket Scientist to see that these are clear indications things need to change. The only defense record labels have for their manufacturing of mega-stars (I only have to say one word, Britney), intimidation of artists (You'd be surprised how much a company-appointed "Producer" can influence an artist's work), and general gang-raping of the populace through record sales (Congress is just now passing heat on the RIAA for overcharging for their CD's), THE ONLY DEFENSE THEY HAVE IS "I deserve to rip you off, I have the law on my side". And today in America, it isn't even about having the law on your side, it's more about having a good professional liar, aka lawyer.

You can go on all you want about the record labels, and hence the artists, deserve to earn their royalties from the music. That's bullshit! The label gets all the money, then throws the artists a few scraps, and the machine perseveres, artists and fans left behind. When I said above the only profit a band makes is from signing bonuses, I was lying. There is also the sale of merchandise via "bandsites"(websites, Rockabillia, etc) or at concerts/festivals/alternastores, but this only realistically will apply to ongoing bands, aka the ones that made it through their first "self-titled" album.

Another concept to consider kiddies is the idea of Free Speech vs. Free Beer ...

Napster operates under the Free Beer precept, which is the sort of thing that makes warez, and general pirating tick. But they are also representing Free Speech because the "Napster Battle" represents the record labels flexing their muscles against a perceived threat. This isn't the first time something like this happened.

Supression of technology by corporations is a regular thing. It happened in the early-80's with VHS and BetaMAX, it happend in the mid-80's with cassette tape. And it's bound to happen again. But of course, mp3's and mpeg in general differ greatly from the afforementioned media because of one big don't have to pay for the media. This is what scares the labels, because in the past they could extract "tributes" from media manufacturers to compensate for piracy and then allow manufacturers to continue distributing their wares. Well, with mpeg that's just not happening, NO ONE profits from it except the consumer, and we just can't have that.

Information by it's nature doesn't seek to be free, true. But it deserves better than what it has currently. It's art, man. Soother of minds, belayer of angst. And they want to keep it for themselves. The only reason you hear music on the radio is because the stations have payed for it, of course they get away with alot in between. You can't turn a deaf ear to these issues with blanket statements like "Artists are suffering" and "Piracy hurts everyone in the long run", because it's just not true, the only people or entities you hurt by piracy are big record labels. If they all crumble tomorrow, it won't be any economic disaster, they compliment the infrastructure, not maintain it. 90% percent of any record company's activity is devoted to domestic endevours, which means if they disapear, it won't any strain on foreign trade, which is the only major concern for our country at this juncture. It's simple simon, people! All that matters is that people are being screwed in the name of company's saying they deserve your money. Well, what if people just stop listening to music? What will the RIAA do, sue America for obstructing their rightful business? Change in the industry and infrastructure is inevitable, it's entropy, man. The industry as it stands is resistant to this change because they know that in the end, they'll be the losers. Well, adapt or die, unless you have a good legal team, of course.

And I don't know about you, but I delight in inflicting every little iode of pain and discomfort in the record industry that I can.

Napster is strong, like zee Bull!

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CaptainSpam: Hell yeah! Back to the days of ftps and IRC serving!

Damn kids! Who in the hell taught them to be so rebellious in the first place? Certainly not heavy metal acts encouraging them to record concerts and then bootleg them for profits, I'm absolutely sure of that!

Here's a poser: I bought a cassette copy of, oh, let's say "Kilroy Was Here" by Styx back in 1984. I've long since lost or broken the cassette, but because I'm an incorrigible packrat I just happen to still have the receipt for the purchase.

Am I violating copyright law if I download a copy of the album from Napster?

Of course, I might have forged the above mentioned receipt. Let's presume that the mom'n'pop record store in New Mexico where I purchased the cassette burned down, losing all their records in the process. Is it really going to be worth the expense to conduct tests to verify the age of the paper and the composition of the ink used to see if the receipt is really sixteen years old over something that costs no more than 20 bucks today, even when applied on a macroscopic scale? I would hope not.

This, to me, is why making services like Napster completely illegal is going to be difficult, at best.

There's got to be a better way to constrain the flow of information so that everyone is treated fairly. Completely squelching services like and Napster isn't the way to do it.

Update 07-07-01 ... Napster, for all intents and purposes, is done. The service has been dark for the last two days, with no explanation. Various court rulings against Napster had caused them to severely limit what could be downloaded, and what free mp3's were left are now no longer available.

Watch out BearShare. You're next.

You know, I used to be one of the semi-little-big-shots, with gigs and gigs of crap that I ripped from the library's CDs, stole from Napster, got through email, got from FTPs, got through IRC, etc... but it got boring. Yeah, it was cool having new music to listen to. But I grew tired of everyone complaining about it being illegal. Companies screw over people in foreign countries making cheap, crappy wafers of silicon and copper (if you're lucky), and that's not illegal; record companies really fuck over the artists that have devoted followings but not screaming throngs of preppy little teenagers willing to pay $20 for 60 minutes of semi-techno crap... but what are we to do about it? What can we do? We can pirate! But that's illegal. And if the RIAA has any geeks working for them, they may find out a way to find each person that gets a certain song, and charge them royalties. BUT... there's I use them a lot. Classical -- no need to pay! Techno? No need to try to find the single copy of Play in the local Mega-Lo-Mart or Try'N'Save... I discovered drum'n'bass through The people there need talent or they're not making money. They've got something there called Payback for Playback. Each time a song gets downloaded, a small amount of money (10 cents, i think) is given to the artists. Each album? (albums are dual-session ECDs with audio tracks, then the mp3 tracks) The price of the album to the buyers! 100% Profits! People can (and have; i've seen the records there) make $5,000 a month! Certainly, that's not enough for a buttload of synthesizers and drum machines, or that antique violin the artists were looking for, but it takes so little time for the majority of these people to make this music, it can be a weekend-only thing and they can take another job during the week. The two-job income can be more than enough to live comfortably. So let's just understand that doesn't pirate; it allows people that wouldn't ordinarily get a record contract (garage bands, basically) make enough money to get a leg-up in the industry... and that can be enough.

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