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Napster Does 180
February 19, 2005
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Napster is where the legal battles began. With the backing of fans, Napster stood firm against the music industry.

To make the well chronicled story short, Napster lost and was sold at a bankruptcy auction to Roxio, who used the name to rebrand their Pressplay music service.

With Napster now tucked in the RIAA camp, you would be forgiven for thinking that Napster would be safe from any further legal tangling.

Roxio, however, has other plans. In complete disregard for the brands history, Napster has filed an amicus curiae, or friends of the court brief, to be viewed by the Supreme Court judges in MGM vs. Grokster appeal trail. MusicNet and CinemaNow are also named on the brief, which outlines why the RIAA sanctioned services believe Grokster should be shut down by the court.

The brief contains valid discussion on the strength of the Betamax being applied to Grokster, but much of this is repeated from MGM briefs.

The focus of the brief contends that Grokster creates an uneven playing field for industry sanctioned services, as the illegitimate software give access to copyright works, but does not have the bother of obtaining licenses.

The brief argues that without protection from the court, RIAA authorized content delivery systems do not stand a chance on the Wild West Internet, which was created by the lower court’s ruling that Grokster is not responsible for the content their users share.

According to Napster, profitability of sanction services are harmed by,

“1) the immediate availability of current music and films that are not subject to any kind of licensing restriction.

“2) venture capital funds’ disincentive to invest in this industry due to the illegal networks’ corruption of the market

“3) the disincentive for widespread support of digital rights management and other features in the portable device industry due to the amount of unprotected content available to consumers.”

Napster appears to have forgotten who is responsible for restricted licensing, lashing out in the wrong direction. Furthermore, DRM is touted by the industry as a tool to stop piracy, not a method to spy on consumers that is being held back by P2P.

Parts of the brief make no sense at all, for example,

“[Grokster’s choice not to monitor the network] results in a scattershot experience for the user, who receives digital files that are subject to whatever digital methodology was used to record them, and no assurances that the file has been labeled correctly, contains the complete metadata, the complete work, or even anything remotely resembling the file sought by the user.”

It sounds like Napster’s fight is with BayTSP who spread fake files, not Grokster.

In the brief, Napster tries to make a scapegoat of Grokster for virtually everything. This ranges from scam sites saying their service is “100% legal,” to the industry dragging their feet on digital content licensing.

Having content and flexibility limited by the entertainment industry must a severe handicap for Napster, but Napster needs to turn to the RIAA to help them improve their service, not to blame P2P for emphasizing the short-comings.

Any court decision based on the arguments of Napster would be to compensate deeper problems with the music industry.

The selfishness of their opinions is highlighted by similar friends of the court briefs by the EFF and Internet Archives.

Internet Archives makes the case that file sharing is vital for their business.

“Peer-to-peer file technologies are valuable tools for the Internet Archive, allowing efficient and economical distribution to the public of its collections, including growing quantities of large audio and video files. The Internet Archive’s ability to achieve its mission will be drastically affected by any decision that constricts innovation in peer-to-peer technologies.”

The EFF points to others who would lose out if courts chose to protect Napster from superior technology.

“Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Janis Ian … credits P2P sharing of her music for increased CD sales. In addition, evidence was submitted regarding the numerous well-known bands, including Phish, Pearl Jam, the Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer, that have authorized free P2P sharing of live concert recordings among fans. P2P networks are also being used to distribute “shareware” and “freeware” software that is authorized for redistribution.”

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Authorized Music Store :: Napster

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