Music is one of those very few things in the world that I feel has the legitimate power to bring the world together. Ever since around 1999, thanks to the creation of Napster, music has become incredibly accessible, which I feel is a huge positive in a world often filled with negatives. Basically what Napster did, was make it possible to download music from all over the world, right to your computer by creating a space where users could stream songs from other users without having to pay (Wikipedia). Obviously this creation cause a bit of an uproar in the music industry and forced what would be come a landmark copyright case.
On the one hand, I can easily understand how A&M Records, Inc. felt justified in taking legal action against the creation of Napster. Basically, giving away music via a “peer-to-peer” style of downloading, for free, is like stealing from musicians without them ever knowing they were robbed. A&M Records, Inc made their case because what Napster was doing, did indeed infringe upon the copyright laws that are in place to defend artists (Kenneth D. Crews) This is because in theory, the creator of a song should get money for the purchase, and use, of that particular song. Unfortunately with how big of a role music has taken in kids lives today, the idea of paying for every song that somebody wants would leave most people, especially college kids, flat broke. The creators of Napster did what they did, in an attempt to make music more accessible. Instead of listening to the law and allowing themselves to remain stuck in their own self imposed nonage, as Kant would call it, they had the courage to make a decision on their own! Just like Kant said, the public will likely enlighten themselves if they get enough freedom to think and find information, especially because there will always be some independent thinkers that go against the grain and help the enlightenment move along (i.e. Napster Creators, Edward Snowden, etc). The problem with that is that getting “enough freedom” is a difficult thing to do. I mean how much freedom is enough? How do you go about getting that much? According to Kant enough freedom can be simply put as, “The public use of one’s reason must be free at all times, and this alone can bring enlightenment to mankind.” I think that this demonstrates how what the creators of Napster did, was use their right to reason.
On the other hand; however, I feel as if copyright law should only be applicable on ideas, information, etc, that is not related to or capable of the betterment of the human race. This idea is similar to the poem at the start of Aeropagitica that says, “This is true liberty when free born men, Having to advise the public may speak free.” In a situation where people are capable of giving useful advise/knowledge to the public, they should be able to do so freely. Music, from Mozart to Tupac, is undoubtedly capable of bettering humanity. Lets be honest about what is really at stake when it comes to illegally downloading music… Nothing. It’s easy for me to say this though, because I am not a musician losing money by these free downloads, but it seems to me that law suits like the Napster case just make musicians seem focused on the lesser of the two results of their music.
The way that I justify this in my mind is that if i were a musician and I had to choose between getting paid for the regulated control of my music via the internet, or having my music readily available for download instantly, all over the world, I think the answer would be rather obvious. Why not allow yourself to be even more accessible? For 99 cents a song? No thanks.
Most people that I read about on the internet feel that this case was very important in establishing the stance of our government and musicians on the way music should be managed, but I feel strongly against that. Music leads to many things but one important thing is the creation of new music. Being able to freely listen to the creations of brilliant musicians all around the world certainly makes me think that better music will continue to be produced. Its not like these musicians are not still going to be making money. I think copyrights in regards to music should remain the same when it comes to putting them in movies, commercials, etc because like i said above, these uses of music will not better humanity. I would love to say that music we download, is “our” music because we compiled, in theory, a completely unique set of a music into one place. Sadly, the law would not agree as Lessig says midway through chapter 1- “To the lawyers who prosecute the laws of copyright, the very idea that the music on “your” CD is “your music” is absurd. “Read the license,” they’re likely to demand. “Read the law,” they’ll say, piling on. I really like what Lessig says in regards to innovation’ “Innovation makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old regime.”(Lessig, Chapter 1) I think that it plays into the Napster case very well because what Napster’s creation really did, was redefine the way that music was distributed.
The Future of Ideas, by Lessig. https://engl382fall2013.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/lessig_foi.pdf
Napster on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napster
Napster Case Summary, by Kenneth D Crews http://www.dml.indiana.edu/pdf/AnalysisOfNapsterDecision.pdf
What is Enlightenment, By Kant https://engl382fall2013.wordpress.com/readings/00-previous-readings/what-is-enlightenment/