The Napster Debate

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<b>1. Background</b>
<br>The Napster software (, launched early in 1999, allows internet users to share and download MP3 files directly from any computer connected to the Napster network. The software is used by downloading a client program from the Napster site and then connecting to the network through this software, which allows sharing (uploading and downloading) of MP3 files between all users connected to the network. While Napster does not condone copyright infringement, there is no opportunity in the software to stop this, or for royalties to be paid to artists whose songs are being duplicated for free.
<br>Unlike similar file-sharing applications (Gnutella, Freenet), Napster limits users to
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Some record labels, most notably Epitaph ( have partnered with sites like to sell full albums and single songs in MP3 format over the web. In this case, the record company has in fact gained a new distribution method, rather than seeing it as the 'enemy '. Of course, in this scenario, the record company still gets a cut of the profits, something that artists ' whose songs are downloaded through Napster don 't get.
<br>The fact that Napster is free and more convenient than visiting a record store makes it an appealing way to get music for consumers. The problem the record companies have is that there is no way of regulating who has access to the information, and hence no way of profiting from it.
<br>Napster also facilitates international distribution for unsigned artists. This also threatens record labels. Previously, without being signed to a record label, an artist simply could not get the exposure to make a living as a musician. With the Internet, sites like and Napster, this is now possible.
<br>While Napster does allow music sharing to an extent that could theoretically destroy the retail music industry, stopping Napster will not stop all their problems. Record labels need to see this new technology not as a threat, but as a challenge. They need to come up
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