Why is the Record Industry So Afraid of Napster?

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Napster is the latest proof that revolutions can come in small packages.

Some say Napster is a dangerous computer program that facilitates piracy and crashes college computer systems across the country, forcing many universities to ban its use.

But this isn’t some malicious virus. To its users Napster’s a way to share music online for free and its use an expression of free speech.

Napster creates a community out of the MP3 music libraries of all its users and cleverly blurs the lines between web-surfer and web-server. And it’s signed up 5 million users since September.

MP3’s better-than-CD quality has already convinced many college-age Americans to put their CD player back in the box and to sell-off old disks – and Napster helps you build an entire MP3 music library on-line and for free.

That’s a lot of people buying a lot fewer CDs. Hundreds of millions of music tracks have been traded – and to the old-label-thinking of the record industry, Napster is point-and-click piracy for the people, plain and simple – and they’ve sued to prove it.

To watchers of the new economy, though, Napster looks like the next big thing – a business model that challenges not only the music industry, but movies, TV, books and art and very notion of intellectual property on the net.

The Napster Revolution – on this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Alec Foege, author of a forthcoming Book about Napster entitled “Record Speed,” and Gian Caterine, Director of Business Development at www.emusic.com.