You can write off MP3.com and any company that touches copyrighted material.
There appears to be little or no legal argument to overturn the massive verdict
So what about Napster? Aren’t they doing the same thing as MP3.com
which lets Internet users log listen to music CDs they own. No! Napster has
never touched a single song and put it on its website. It only makes software
that allows its members to exchange the music they copy to their hard drives.
Napster doesn’t have any control over what members put on those drives and
cannot be punished for any copyright offenses on the part of its members, even
though the company knows full well that the software will enable consumers to
engage in potentially illegal distribution of copyrighted material.
On Napster’s side is a powerful US law that lets consumers copy music and
video for their personal use, like putting a CD onto cassette in order to play
it back in a car. Or copying to CD to play it on a computer at work. Shutting
Napster down would be the legal equivalent of halting VCR sales.
Has anybody ever recorded anything that was not copyrighted beside their
baby’s first steps? Of course not. And bringing a home-made audio CD with
copyrighted disco tunes to a dance party for all to enjoy is not a crime unless
I start selling copies of the CD. So for me to share my favorite Stones/Pink
Floyd titles with some dope in Tibet over the Internet should be my legal right.
Ironically, MP3.com went through a lot of trouble to minimize copyright
infringement by forcing members to put a legal copy of the CD into their CD-ROM
drive in order to be able to listen to the music from somewhere
else. By not allowing this, the record industry is in effect shooting itself in
the foot. Chances are the recording industry will settle with MP3.com in a way
that the industry will end up owning the company and its technology.
It’s all about control, and MP3.com’s mistake was to develop a business model
that tried to take away some of control over copyrighted music from the almighty
Let’s hope the California Court of Appeals will let reason prevail over
industrial might and grant Napster its right to life. I have a feeling it will.