The rise and fall of Shawn Fanning

  02/13/2001 3:50:00 AM MST Albuquerque, Nm
  By Dustin D. Brand; Owner AMO

knock knock, Court finds Napster Guilty
  In a much anticipated ruling from the United States 9th District Court of Appeals, they ruled "Napster, by its conduct, knowingly encourages and assists the infringement of [record company] copyrights," in their decision.

  The court upheld the findings of a lower court just short of shutting Napster down themselves, holding that Napster's service is not protected by fair use, is guilty of two kinds of copyright infringement, has failed to police its system in an attempt to stop the spread of copyrighted works and that its service causes substantial harm to record companies. Whew. Shawn Fanning, who in 1999 dropped out of Northwestern University founded Napster.

  He was in college at the time, and obviously knew what he was doing was illegal, but hey, it would be a short time before they shut me down I imagine he thought. Actually, it's taken nearly 2 years to come to this point, and only 12 months ago the Recording Industry filed their lawsuit. After 3 months since the Stay order forcing Napster to shut down was issued, the case is back at the first Judge who issued the Stay. At this point, she simply needs to re-write her judgement, and use the upper courts findings to pull the plug, or rather have the police pull it.

  MP3 files, the technology driving the music on Napster is a small file, about 1/10 the size of the actual song on the CD, and their quality is thus, about 1/10 the quality of a CD. Digital-Digital many people think, so it's an exact copy right, well not exactly. MPEG 1 Layer 3 format is over a decade old, and yes it's that old.

  What Shawn did was create a huge set of database's of college MP3 files, built his software around it, and then released it to the world. A huge burst in the peer-peer model which makes the internet work, but with a twist. These MP3 files replaced most college students need to purchase the CD's because someone in the college had an MP3-CD decoder and could "burn" a CD using their CDRW. Using nearly 90% of the college's bandwidth, it's easy to see how Shawn turned his college investment around to build the worlds largest music pirate community.

  The reprocusions are already being felt throughout the industry. People on the internet are used to getting things for free. They don't pay to access a web site (usually), and without shutting down Napster, people will think it's ok to walk into a music store and take a CD, make mp3's from it, and walk out of the store leaving the CD, but taking the MP3's. Think about that.

  That is where Shawn Fanning fell. He built a system inherently illegal, used college's internet bandwidth, and built his big illegal internet community. I havn't ever used Napster, and I won't ever use Napster. For all those people who do, imagine this: Napster is teamed up with Bertelsmann, and they are preparing for a Subscription based service. Now all the record labels who sued Napster, are still suing Napster, and Napster will be shut down. The real question is, when Napster reopens, with 99.9% of their illegal below CD Quality MP3's pulled with only Bertelsmanns' to replace them, I ask you, will Napster survive?

  The simple answer is NO. Do the math, crunch the numbers, and use your common sense. But most of you already knew that, that's why you got what you could when you could.

  Sorry Shawn.