Internet and Technology – Napster, Ethics, and Bandwidth on College Campuses

Essay by big daddy righteousCollege, UndergraduateA-, May 2009

download word file, 8 pages 3.0

Abstract: This paper presents an overview of the recent Napster controversy, including a focus on the continuing practice of university campuses to block access to Napster servers. An examination of said blocking is given in terms of the ethical, legal, and practical issues that surround it.

For some college students, Shawn Fanning is a god, but most do not even recognize his name. Virtually every college student, however, is familiar with this Northeastern University dropout's brainchild, Napster, a relatively simple MP3-sharing program that has single-handedly brought the issue of illegal MP3 downloading and distribution to the public eye. While the MP3 format has been around since the late 80's, it took Napster to make people stand up and take note. With the use of Napster, finding and downloading MP3s has become so easy that the use of MP3s has spread like wildfire, especially in the college community. This rampant downloading on university campuses, however, puts colleges in a tight spot.

As the MP3 revolution has gained steam, the backlash from the music community has kept pace. From Metallica to Sony to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), musicians and music companies alike have brought lawsuit after lawsuit against Shawn Fanning and Napster. Technically, the verdict is still out, but in order to protect themselves from possible suits brought against them, many colleges and universities have banned Napster. This is not the only problem however. Napster is notorious for being a huge network bandwidth hog, and that means network congestion and slowdowns on college campuses. This factor, possibly even more so than the threat of litigation, has pushed many colleges and universities to block access to Napster altogether. The decision to block Napster, however, is not a simple one. Clearly the legal issues are in flux, but compounded with...