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[21 August 2000]
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Napster and RIAA Court Update

[McClure & Trowbridge Publishing; 08/21/00]
Most people are still failing to compare the Napster vs. RIAA issue to the cassette duplication battles of the 1970's when RIAA feared loss of revenue by private copying and sharing of music in cassette format.

The digital format today is in a similar position to cassettes two and three decades ago; mp3 is a format for music storage widely available to individuals. The solution with cassettes was to demand tariff from cassette manufacturers on sales; these monies are distributed to licensing agencies and RIAA, offsetting copy income losses.

Napster CEO Hank Barry:
"We're gratified and appreciative of the 9th Circuit Court's decision today to allow the Napster community to continue operating while our appeal of the injunction is pending. We want to thank the Napster community for their support during this period."

Napster's defense includes some excellent points:
It is not illegal to make or share a single copy of a copyrighted recorded work, it is only illegal to distribute copies. Napster provides a medium of exchange analogous to people making personal cassette copies of records. (In the 1970's and 1980's similar court battles were fought. Tape manufacturers pay a small tariff to collection agencies and RIAA for personal taping of protected works.)

Secondly, Napster argued, Napster is not distributing or copying works - individuals are. Both points are very strong and valid arguments, hence the court's decision to allow Napster to operate until the ~October court activities will continue.

Napster Founder Shawn Fanning said:
"I am happy and grateful that we do not have to turn away our 20 million users and that we can continue to help artists. We'll keep working and hoping for the best."

Napster's service will continue in operation, and Napster will continue its positive "Buycott", urging its users to buy the CDs of artists who have come out in support of the music community.

Analysts say that until major labels relax their control, there is little chance of creating a viable online marketplace for legitimate music, because music consumers do not care, or even know, about which labels distribute their favorite artists. Offering a service that lets people access songs only from one label's enormous library remains a limitation, not a liberation.
[McClure & Trowbridge Publishing; also CNET; 08/21/00]

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