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The Napster lawsuit in the US

In America, there is currently a lawsuit pending that threatens to change the face of the music industry. The lawsuit is against Napster it has been brought by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as well as other major music labels.
Napster is a virtual community, which consists of music news and chat-rooms, the main feature it offers is an easy way to download MP3's (music files). This controversial service has brought the lawsuit to Napster. Napster allows its subscribers to download the music files without charge. It is not however, from Napster that the subscribers get these files. It is from each other. The users share their hard drives so that other users can download any of their music files that they want.
The RIAA believe that Napster has helped users infringe copyright. The threat of the lawsuit has been around since the conception of Napster and was actually filed four months after Napster went on line. The case is not as clear-cut as it first appears. RIAA argues that most of the MP3's on Napster's site are mainly pirated. Therefore, by Napster allowing and actually making it easier for users to download MP3's this means that they are assisting Copyright infringement.
Napsters defence is according to some legal experts, quite strong, especially as there are two cases that can be seen as setting precedents. The most recent being the RIAA suit against Diamond Multimedia. This company produces the 'Rio' a portable MP3 player. The RIAA felt the Rio ruined digital distribution as it played both legal and illegal MP3's. The judges ruling was in favour of Diamond Multimedia saying

'Rio is a playback only device, and therefore not subject to regulation.'
RIAA Suing Upstart Startup by Jennifer Sullivan

The other case is from 1976 and involves Sony. This case relates indirectly; the movie industry sued Sony over the then new videocassette recorder (VCR). History seems to be repeating itself as Napster wa...

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Bibliography 1. RIAA Suing Upstart Startup By Jennifer Sullivan (Date Published Nov.15, 1999 Date Downloaded Nov.16 2000) http://www.wired .com/news/print/0,1294,32599,00.html 2. Napster: Music is for sharing By Jennifer Sullivan (Date Published Nov.15, 1999 Date Downloaded Oct.16 2000) http://www.wired .com/news/print/0,1294,32151,00.html 3. This Lawsuit Is Cranking Up the Volume over MP3 Mike France (published 12/13/99 downloaded 16/10/00) 4. Napster plays dodgeball with music biz Robert Lemos (published 13/08/99 downloaded 16/10/00),4586,2314760,00.html 5. RIAA sues Napster, Claiming 'Music Piracy' Brain Hiatt (published 17/10/00 downloaded 20/10/00) 6. Studios sue MP3 startup Napster Jack McCarthy (published 12/9/99 download 20/10/00) 7. Court Debates shutting down Napster Sharon Epperson (published 26/10/00 downloaded 30/10/00) 8. Testimony of Shawn Fanning (Published 26/10/00 Downloaded 30/10/00) 9. Napster/Bertelsmann Q&A (Published 11/11/00 Downloaded 15/11/00) 10. News Flash (Published 11/11/00 Downloaded 15/11/00) 11. Napster Has Clay Shirky (Published 1/11/00 Downloaded 15/11/00) 12. Napster has history on its side-kind of JL (Published 22/11/00 Downloaded 22/11/00)

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