NAPSTER VS. THE RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA Napster versus The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a copyright infringement case that began in 1999. RIAA is the plaintiff representing many music corporations and various artists who are the owners of the copyrighted material. Napster is the defendant who provides copyrighted music available to the public for Internet downloads without the permission of the owners.
According to public record, Napster has willfully provided this copyrighted music to users with the prior knowledge of infringement. Their internal records, behavior and, most of all, their own admission to this illegal act, have proven this. Napster has also contributed to direct infringement by its users; due to when these users download music, they have violated reproduction and distribution rights. Napster provides the means for this user infringement by supplying the software, hardware and manpower that makes it convenient for the music transfer.
To further contribute to this delinquency, Napster has refused to provide the court with the identities of its users.
Ignorance has not been a tactic used by Napster. Their founders, Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, have been quoted saying, "bypass the record industry entirely." Also the top executives of this company have 45+ years experience in intellectual property matters and in the recording industry. This combined experience in the industry they are exploiting provides them with more than enough awareness of their actions. However, these knowledgeable executives have also continuously downloaded copyrighted music Francine L. Williams Group 5 Page 2 on their own computers. Ironically, Napster posted its own copyright notices, which included the threat to sue for logo trademark infringement.
Napster is also liable for vicarious infringement. This means they have the right and ability to supervise their users and have a direct financial interest in these users.
Napster's responsibilities included but not practiced, were the ability to block users, set controls on user's environments, filtering or blocking. Another method of policing the system was to log and collect the data of all offered and shared music. However, Napster did not use this method until they were ordered to do so.
The financial benefit to Napster has fueled their reluctance to provide the courts with user information and to stop the illegal infringement activity that is the sole basis of their business practice. After notification of its improper infringement conduct, Napster continued to conduct business using the current operating procedures. As of October 1, 2001, the Recording Industry Association of America, plaintiffs in this case, is entitled to judgment on their claims.
Sources: [online] www.riaa.com/pdf/PlaintiffsSJM.pdf [online] www.cnn.com/2000/LAW/08/07/copyright.overview/ [online] www.riaa.com/napster_legal.cfm