Napster Followup

Filed under: — 1:38 am has an excellent 3-page article with opinions on the Napster verdict from a wide range of experts on both sides of the issue. Read on for my own non-expert opinion. I agree with just about everyone that Napster as a company is doomed. The administration involved in policing the service and removing copyrighted works would cost them a fortune – and more importantly, it would remove all of the value. Let’s face it, nobody’s using Napster to trade public-domain recordings. If they were, they’d just use Web sites. I think a big part of the reason Napster’s peer-to-peer model worked is that it made it easy to trade copyrighted music without getting caught. Meanwhile, a hundred different P2P packages are standing by to take over where Napster left off. Nobody is going to stop trading MP3s. We just won’t have a convenient six-letter word to lump all of the activity under anymore, and the record companies won’t have anybody to sue. I think there is one thing the record companies can do to save themselves: take over where Napster left off. With their budget, they could make beautiful-looking sites that allow people to download music for a fee, whether flat-rate or per song. If the price is right, people will flock to these sites. They’ll have none of Napster’s problems: All of the songs will be available all of the time, with great quality and fast download speeds. Much better than paying Napster $5 a month for a cheesy peer-to-peer system. And they could add extra value, such as artist interviews or videos. Of course, Gnutella and the other Napster clones will live on, but I think the record companies will be surprised how little they affect their revenue – provided they don’t make the same mistake again and let the free software offer better services than the record companies themselves.

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(c) 2001-2007 Michael Moncur. All rights reserved, but feel free to quote me.
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