Linus Lee: Napster And InequalityPresentation Transcript
Napster and Inequality Linus Lee JUS 494 Science, Technology and Inequality Dr. Merlyna Lim 18 Nov. 2008
When the Internet first became ubiquitous, sending files of music and videos to one another started becoming second nature. The act of legal and illegal downloading exploded once online file sharing companies such as Napster and Limewire were created. One can argue that Napster and other companies unlawfully broke copyright infringement laws and distribution was unlimited and everyone and anyone had access to download songs and movies without monetary wages. Some of the main issues of concern are of ethics, ownership, and property rights.
Shawn Fanning is the creator of Napster in the late 1990s. A college dropout, his original and only intention to make life easier by means of providing and distributing music. Napster in its prime had an estimated 70 million users worldwide. It was a piece of free software available on the Internet that allowed users to share MP3 files without permission or payment anywhere in the world as a long as they had a computer and a telephone line
Issues and Problems
Napster changed the music industry’s economy by lessening the power relationship of producers and consumers. Producers had an eminent threat because virtually anyone had access to music file sharing.
Napster has made a tremendous impact because they initially violated copyright infringement laws. Napster’s original intention was for people to share music files without having to pay monetary fees. They went through several legal battles with the Recording Industry Association of America mainly due to copyright laws.
Was it theft?
Issues and Problems (cont.)
A moral concern was no longer was the music companies in a traditional role of having a centralized control system.
Peer to peer file sharing directly opposes the traditional centralized system concept. Decentralization avoids many of the pitfalls that have stymied major label attempts to set up an Internet based music distribution.
What also made Napster successful was the fact that it rarely intervened between transactions of users increasing the levels of availability.
Napster demographics of the consumers were in the early to mid 20s. Majority of the consumers were primarily college students and adolescent males
Internet and access to music downloading was easier and enjoyable by people under 30. By Feb. 2001, 26.4 million users worldwide
The argument of the consumers was that an entire CD had only one or two “good” songs and that CDs weren’t worth buying
Having the ability to trade with one another without interruptions was another consumer argument.
Theory of Justice
The concept of Napster falls under an utilitarian type of internet music distribution.
The dominant form of distributive policy, a utilitarian viewpoint is a set of social arrangements is fair as long as it increases total well-being (Cozzens, p. 87).
Technically Napster justified their actions by sampling their music stimulating for the consumers to purchase their music. Whether or not an individual is dissatisfied with his or her music, Napster’s overall consumer’s well being as a whole is what made it successful.