The Fate of Napster: Digital Downloading Faces an Uphill Battle

By: Jennifer Askanazi, Glen Caplan, Dianne Descoteaux, Kelly Donohue & Darin Glasser

First Diamond Multimedia, then MP3.com, now Napster. The recording industry, in a flurry to protect its copyrighted material, has waged an all-out battle against the dot-coms for the future of copyrighted music on the Internet. Since A&M Records, along with several other labels which comprise the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), filed suit against Napster, emotions have run high in the online community. Some have heralded this technology as a much-needed alternative to the strangling grasp of the major record labels; others view it as blatant theft of property. Students, musicians, computer programmers, trade organizations, and even the US government have voiced their opinions – all perhaps sensing that the outcome of the Napster litigation will have far-reaching consequences. Not only does the current battle over the fate of peer-to-peer technology promise to reshape the face of copyright law, it will also mark the future of the music industry, emerging technologies, and business models for years to come.The following iBrief describes the emergence of Napster’s peer-to-peer technology, the legal proceedings to date, and Napster’s defensive strategy, as well as the potential technological and cultural ramifications of the Napster cause celebre

Cite: 2001 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0013

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