So a federal judge has ordered the online music-swapping Napster to shut down by midnight tonight. Since the announcement was made Wednesday evening there’s been a flurry of activity and a flurry of voices saying a whole lot of I’m not sure what. If you don’t know, Napster is a computer program that allows users to share mp3 music files for free. The record industry hasn’t been too happy with this, since nearly 85% of the music swapping involves copyrighted songs, and they slapped Napster with a lawsuit. The judge ordered Napster to shut down during the trail, and things don’t look too good for the company that started the music swapping melee.
Thousands, if not millions, of people use Napster, and the program has grabbed headlines on college campuses where the program is often banned for hogging university bandwidth.
This whole struggle involves questions of intellectual copyrights. Is it legal to download mp3 files of my favorite song? Some sides say yes, some sides say no. On the yes side are the music junkies and dot com corporations who are eager to take advantage of the internet. They claim it’s sharing, not stealing. They claim it encourages people to buy CDs by allowing them to sample music for free. They claim it’s just like taping songs off the radio. On the no side are record companies and musicians. The record companies claim they’re losing sales to mp3 swapping