Advantages Great way to preview albums
Disadvantages If it dies then the recording industry will carry on ripping us off
Napster. The very name sends shivers of fear down the spines of record company executives the world over, and smiles of delight to it's users. For those that have never heard of Napster, glad that you've finally come back to Earth from where you have been living.So what is Napster? It's a form of connecting PCs called peer to peer by many, although this is not strictly true as Napster needs a central server to access the database, for sharing MP3 files. Peer to peer involves the direct connection of two computers over a network, which occurs on Napster when you start downloading a music file.
The software itself is very easy to use but I personally found it to be very irritating. Quite frequently I found that downloads disconnected at 99% and refused to complete even though the other user was still active. Also many MP3s were of very poor quality.Because of the nature of the software, it was in hot water from the very beginning as users started to share copyrighted works, and the recording industry literally wet themselves in fear. They could see billions of pounds worth of record sales vanishing into the ether, as people shared CDs instead of buying them, so they sued Napster and it is in the process of being shut down, or changing the use of it's service.
What's always annoyed me about this lawsuit is that it isn't Napster's fault. The fault lies wholly with the various record companies. MP3 has become the de facto music file for transferring across the internet, and instead of embracing the technology and allowing users to download only the songs they want, the record companies have tried to throttle it. Why?Simple. Because most of us wouldn't download a whole album by an artist, just the songs we like. How many cd's do you own where you only ever listen to half the tracks? So therefore you wouldn't have downloaded the half you didn't like. Many people say that Napster and it's clones affect the sales of cd singles, but why would the record companies care about that? Most cd singles actually make a loss.
And why just pick on Napster (and MP3.com)? The software and hardware to create MP3s and burn onto CDs are the problem. Without programs that can covert (rip) CDs to MP3 then there wouldn't be a problem. Similarly if CD writing software didn't convert MP3 to CDDA then you couldn't burn your stolen MP3s to CD for use in your stereo.Since Napster first rose to prominence the sales of CDs has actually gone up by 7%, but I suspect this is only albums that are actually quite good and worth buying. The people that download MP3s are generally either peeople that wouldn't normally buy a CD or people like me that download tracks, listen to them and either buy the audio cd or delete them. Napster and its ilk are actually the best musical preview tools ever invented and actually give us, consumers, a more informed choice on what to buy. A bit like Ciao really.
So I repeat. What's the problem?
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