Re: Napster: thoughts and comments?

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 11:15:33 MDT

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > > comercially. They also supported taping records, and CDs. The problem is
> > > with 100% perfect digital reproduction.
> >
> > WHich is bullshit. Lars claims that MP3 downloads are a 'perfect' reproduction
> > of the digital track. Not true. MP3 downloads are perfect reproductions of the
> > original MP3 file on the server whish is an imperfect reproduction of the
> > original CD master. MP3 is nowhere near CD quality. The claim of 'perfect
> > reproduction' is a false straw man the recording industry is trying to use to
> > shut down this format specifically because it has outcompeted their own file
> > format that is licensable, trackable, and able to be controlled on a pay per
> > play basis.
> Sorry, Mike, but your argument is philosophically irrelevant because even
> if existing MP3 technology is not perfect, prefect reproduction is trivial
> and will be commonplace as technology advances. Even on a DSL line today,
> you can download a 100% faithful CD track in lossless WAV format in a very
> reasonable time. And no digital format will ever be "secure" except on
> secure hardware, and even that is dubious.

Actually, no. If the file is encrypted such that each successive play requires a
new key to decrypt, which must be downloaded from the recording company's
keyserver on a pay per play basis (i.e. no key can be used twice on the same
downloaded file), then you have a very secure file format.

While 100% faithful WAV format files are quite obviously violations of
copyright, its more a question of value. I pay $15.00 for a 10 song CD from
Metallica, making each CD quality song worth $1.50 to me, regardless of how many
times I choose to play it, how many other people are present when I choose to
play it, or what small samples of it I choose to play. On the other end of the
scale, an FM radio quality track of the same song is worth nothing to me, as I
receive such transmissions for free over my FM radio. Thus any downloaded file
over the internet that is of FM broadcast quality is also of zero value to me on
a value for quality basis. How you scale the gap between FM broadcast quality
and CD quality and the attendant value of points between is obviously up for
debate, but at no point should the artist expect to make more than $1.50 per
song to give me permanent play rights to that song in any quality format for my
own private non-commercial use.

Then you have the question of non-commercial use. If I throw a house party, and
play Metallica music, I am not violating copyright in allowing 300 of my closest
friends to listen to my purchased Metallica CDs. Even if I am charging my
friends for their consumption of my beer am I regarded to be violating
copyright, since I am not charging for their use of the music (since I don't
charge my neighbors for the benefits of the spillover sound).

Now, imagine a virtual ongoing house party on the web, where I am playing MP3
tracks I recorded off of my legally purchased CDs for the entertainment of my
thousands of friends. I am not charging my friends for the use of my tracks, for
which I paid a legal license in my purchase of the CD, so I am not violating
copyrights because I am not profiting off of the use of the music.

Napster is not in violation of copyright law because it does not itself engage
in the distribution of MP3 tracks for profit, it produces software that allows
people to trade MP3 tracks, with NO method of exchanging any payment for the
trade of MP3 files. Napster software users MIGHT be in violation of copyright if
they are charging a fee for the distribution of MP3 files via the Napster
software, which Metallica and the rest of the recording industry has not been
able to prove.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Oct 02 2000 - 17:34:26 MDT