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What an interesting (and volatile) topic!

I've been watching with interest some of the debates surrounding Napster, RIAA, and MP3
technology. I believe the facts of this case are being obscured (purposely) by Napster
and those who invest in them. The supreme court case is not about MP3 files, or the
ability of an individual to make copies, it's about the distribution method used by
Napster and Napster affiliates.

The ability of an individual to make a copy of a piece of music they own is not just
legal, it's protected (US Code 17 something something). I believe this would also apply
to making mp3 music files of music you already own. Fact is, the government can't
control that aspect of the situation if they wanted to.

The ability of an individual to share copyrighted works of anything with friends or
strangers is not protected. It falls to the artist to enforce the various rights of
their works (see Grateful Dead for an example).

Napster provided a portal for many hundreds or thousands of people share copyrighted
works without the exchange of money (if not for Napster than for the artists). This
violates copyright law since those artists whose music was being traded played no part in
the decision to share their works. If a young up-n-coming artist would like some of
their songs to be shared by people on-line, than they have that right. All they are
doing is essentially signing away their ability to limit who distributes that particular
song. Napster, however, has allowed anyone who shares those mp3 files the ability to
decide FOR THE ARTIST. This is where the point of law will turn.

Everyone will still have the ability to record copies of their albums into an mp3 file
... and use it individualy. New artists will be able to submit copies of their works to
websites for anyone to download and enjoy (or hate, if it sucks). MP3's are not in
jeopardy. Neither is your ability to make copies. Napster can be viewed as a privately
created video store, where patrons make copies of their movies and bring it in for others
to watch. It's just not allowed.

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