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Simple Solution for Napster

Lately, there has been a significant amount of concern regarding software programs that promote the sharing of songs at a minimal cost to the consumer. These networks allow users to swap computer files in the form of MP3s among one another via the World Wide Web. In return, this allows for users to download music for free. One such music service that has become the subject of debate was developed by Shawn Fanning and was made available to the public in 1999. This program is better known as Napster.

As a result of these debates, Napster critics carry with them several valid points in their claim against these software programs. One such argument is that users should not be allowed to obtain music from the artists and songwriter for free. They claim that Napster should pay royalties to the recording artist in an effort to make up for the loss in potential CD sales. Moreover, they claim that artists have no say as to whether or not their music can or cannot be traded within the network. More specifically, artists say that their music is just automatically made available to the public, without the written or lawful consent of the artist themselves. Furthermore, critics claim that recording songs off the radio is totally different than that of the service provided through networks like Napster. They say that music from the radio is not as easily obtained and the quality is not even remotely similar to that of an MP3 file. They also claim that because of Napster, artists have no say as to where on the Internet their music can be made available, which may draw away crowds from a certain band s website which is their means of advertising. This may have an ultimate effect on new releases and concert announcements. All of these valid concerns are frustrating to those who oppose Napster, and as a result, they have taken action in court.

But then again, I have found common ground and can actually agree with the opposition when looking from their viewpoint. It certainly does seem that the ability to obtain music for free, and then to be able to burn these songs onto CDs, would have a direct effect on music sales. In return, this would ultimately have a negative effect to the recorder and the artist from a financial standpoint. Additionally, I can understand that many artists may not want their music made available through software programs such as Napster. Artists certainly possess the right as to who should and should not have access to their music and the songs they write. As a result of this common ground, maybe it is possible for both opposing sides to work things out.

Nevertheless, perhaps there is a simple solution that both Fanning and artists can agree upon in regards to ending this ongoing debate. One such solution includes leaving Napster available to both existing and new users, as it currently is today. Still, some certain adaptations could be made to the software program that benefits the artists in several ways. The first change and probably the most significant would be to enforce a monthly fee associated to Napster and charge users for listening and downloading these songs. In a recent survey posted by Napster, 58.5% of the users said they would pay up to fifteen dollars per month for the advantages of the service (www.napster.com). This would give users the lawful right to burn their own compact discs without upsetting the artists and their recorders. The profits obtained by Napster would then allow them to pay royalties to both the artist and the songwriter, in an effort to resolve the current issue on hand. Another change that would be implemented would be to give artists the right to decide as to which of their works (if any) could be made available on the service (www.stopnapster.com). This would allow those artists that currently oppose Napster to have the choice of whether or not to support them. The next change would be giving the artist the option of contacting the users of the service that have downloaded or obtained their songs in an effort to inform them of new releases, concert dates and other such events. These changes would certainly not be easy to engage and would require much effort by both sides. But on the other hand, this would give programs like Napster the opportunity to help support the artists within their network with a significantly smaller amount of controversy from both opposing sides.

While the solution may not be simple, it is one that can be easily agreed upon by both opposing sides and more importantly the consumer. As a result of these agreements, this would allow Napster to remain in business while obtaining a degree of profit, which it currently is not claiming right now. In return, the critic s discrepancies would be resolved. But even more important, users will not be forced to give up the programs and software that they have so heavily relied upon during the last two years, and they will be able to continue to find the music they want, whenever they want, without the hassle of a music store. We must remember that consumer satisfaction is the ultimate goal in this ongoing battle.

Works Cited

Napster. Artists Sound Off. (n.d.) Retrieved February 10, 2001 from the World Wide

Web: http://www.napster.com/speakout/artists.html.

The Offspring. Offspring News. (n.d.) Retrieved February 10, 2001 from the World

Wide Web: http://www.offspring.com

Stop Napster. Artists Protecting Artists. (n.d.) Retrieved February 10, 2001 from the

World Wide Web: http://www.stopnapster.com

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