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Legal vs Illegal

Illegal (Napster vs. Music Industry)The issues that will be slugged out in federal district court in San Francisco sound a little too pop culture to be all that serious. How many music CDs are people buying these days in record stores throughout the nation because of Napster? Is the technology that Napster uses legal? Napster is, of course, the wildly popular file-sharing service whose 20 million users have downloaded some half a billion songs--most copyrighted for free. The technology that Napster has brought to music listeners across the globe has allowed the freedom of obtaining music for free and should not be shut down by the entertainment industry’s argument in federal court.The laws that support a technology like Napster argue the legality issue of Napster; Napster is legal. The general idea of Napster’s argument is that there are enough exemptions in the copyright laws to permit Napster to exist. As long as a user of Napster is using the program for personal use and does not gain proceeds from it the program is not being used illegally. Napster cites the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act, which allows anyone to copy music for “noncommercial use”(Kahn 50). This act basically states that anyone may record music for personal use, but not for a profit of any kind. The act also makes no mention of the number of copies that may be made. Secondly, Napster’s argument rests on another act applied to Internet service providers and search engines. Napster is not responsible for its user actions with the materials that they (the user) retrieves using Napster. The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act states that, “a search engine is exempt from copyright claims if the company that owns it is unaware that the information the engine retrieves violates copyrights (Kahn 51).” Napster barely meets the definition of an Internet service provider; although it is considered a search engine because ...

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