Facts about Napster
In 1999 Napster introduced a new way for people to “steal” music and videos. Before the Internet became available in most people’s homes people had to buy CD/tape/record or record music from the radio stations. Napster allowed people to link together to share music. A person will download Napster on their computers; receive a user name and password for free. Then the program will keep track of the music each person has on their computers and allow others to download the music. Customers were not charged a fee and Napster did not pay the record companies any money for the downloaded songs. Napster made money by allowing other companies to advertise on the site. (Games, 2001)
By December 1.6 million Internet users were taking advantage of the site. This caused record companies to take notice. The Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group representing the world’s largest record companies, including: Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, and Emi Group alleged that Napster was breaking the copyright laws by allowing people to get music without paying for it. Many singers and bands joined in on the fight since they were not getting their share of income from the music. (Games, 2001)
The courts shut down the site. Napster had to figure out another way to stay in business. They started charging for the music and were allowed to operate. (Games, 2001)
Determine the ethical issue to be resolved
The ethical issue is whether or not the artist and the music companies have the right to decide how customers get their product. Should people be able to receive music without paying for it? Since people can hear music on the radio for free why shouldn’t they be able to hear music on their computer without having to pay for it?
Use your moral imagination to consider the possible alternatives.
One possible solution is charge per song to download music. Many people want a song or two from an album not the whole...