Napster accused of copyright infringements

By: C. Borden
Hope Secondary School
Hope, British Columbia

The future of MP3s will never be the same. Who knows, they may not even exist on the internet after all the copyright infringements. Napster Inc., from San Mateo, California has been having problems with musicians claiming that their copyrights have been violated, as Napster's users share and download MP3s using Napster's servers.


Heavy metal group, Metallica had 317, 377 Napster users banned from Napster as they were believed to have been infringing Metallica's copyrights. Howard King, Metallica's attorney, believes that the banned users that have sent a "counter notification" form, which denies that they
did not or have been mistaken to have illegally reproduced any of Metallica's productions, are lying and that Napster's ‘[infringement policy is inadequate].' There is no actual proof that Napster's users are lying about reproducing and redistributing Metallica's music.

It is stated on Napster's web site that the MP3 files that "[are located] using Napster are not stored on Napster's servers. Napster does not and cannot control what content is available... using the Napster browser." It also states that copyright owners and users of Napster should be aware that some MP3 files may have been created or distributed without copyright owner authorization.

Based on a self-implied assumption, all of the MP3s available could be a recreated MP3 that is distributed without the permission of a copyright owner bit if a Napster user actually contacted a copyright owner for the right to distribute the requested song as a MP3, what would the copyright owner want in return if they said yes, and if they said no, wouldn't the Napster user distribute the song as an MP3 anyway?

In the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, Napster followed all the rights involved. Section 512(a) proves that "the liability of service providers in circumstances where the provider merely acts as a data conduit, transmitting digital information from one point on a network to
another at someone else's request." The way Napster works is that Napster ‘users have a folder on their computer that contains the MP3s that they want to trade. When they connect to Napster, the servers compile a huge and updated index of all the available MP3s from all of the connected Napster users, where MP3s can be downloaded and the files are never on the servers.'

The Copyright Act of 1998 also stated that "the provider [not knowing] the requisite level of knowledge of the infringing activity...must take down or block access to the material." The only thing Napster could do was delete users from the use of Napster because the MP3s are not on the servers. What else could have Napster done? Nothing.

Here's a thought, it is not okay to distribute MP3s as it violates musicians copyrights, but it is okay to distribute re-recorded CDs and cassettes. Soon, if not already, MP3s could be distributed via e-mail.

What will the music industry do about that? And, what about Scour.net?

Now Dr. Dre is claiming that his copyrights have been infringed so his list of 239, 612 Napster users will go through the same thing as the other Napster users did. MP3s will always be available now and they will be distributed some how if Napster is eventually forced to shut down its servers.

Sources -

This article originally appeared in The Attempt, an online
student publication at Hope Secondary School in Hope, British Columbia.