Shut it down!
July 26, 2000 5:07 PM   Subscribe

Shut it down! Napster ordered to shut down immediately. Backlash anyone?
posted by Mick (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So far they're still up and running. Where's a Gnutella mirror at?
posted by Mick at 5:08 PM on July 26, 2000

I love Napster....

Fuck musicians.
posted by FAB4GIRL at 5:14 PM on July 26, 2000

You can get gnutella here...

Once you've downloaded it, connect to their host catcher, it's by where it says "need a host?"
posted by Bane at 5:20 PM on July 26, 2000

You can tell this is big news, because the first post at /. is actually vaguely topical.

Perhaps it's time for less talk and more rock.

posted by tingley at 5:21 PM on July 26, 2000

FAB4GIRL: It ain't musicians. It's the RIAA (who make themselves rich by ripping off musicians).
posted by EssenDreck at 5:22 PM on July 26, 2000


I hate the record companies, hate them, hate them so.

I can't believe this, this is bad. Arrrrgggghhhh!!!!!

(I can't even compose complete sentences I'm so pissed off right now)
posted by mathowie at 5:41 PM on July 26, 2000

RIAA shoots themselves in the head. Film at 11. I love the fact that these arrogant fools think they can control the internet. Hey, it's their funeral.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 6:04 PM on July 26, 2000

What's everyone so worked up for? The Napster protocol is still out there (via Opennap); Gnutella and Freenet are coming up strong as well. All this decision affects is Napster, Inc.

And IMHO, the RIAA has every right to pound Napster Inc into the ground. I'm all for the technology, but whereas services like Gnutella et al are free and open source, Napster Inc. is out to find a way to make a huge profit from piracy. "Making the music free" is one thing. Taking musicians' music, making sure they don't get paid for it, and then making money off their songs yourselves is just slimy.
posted by aaron at 6:19 PM on July 26, 2000

BTW, Judge Patel said they have to shut their servers down by midnight PDT Friday. So you've still got ~36 hours to leech.
posted by aaron at 6:22 PM on July 26, 2000

So, aaron, it's the fact that Napster was making money for themselves that pisses you off, and not the theft of the music?

For people (like myself) who've spent many a hard hour working to protect artists' copyrights, this is a good day and a great ruling. Viva Judge Patel.
posted by Dreama at 6:39 PM on July 26, 2000

Did anyone else watch the stream that Napster offered just after the announcement at 7:00pm? They messed it up big time. Before the video feed started they broadcast a trial run and after the announcement was over they left the camera on for an awkward minute. Looks like Broadcast has a bit of work to do, oh, but we knew that didn't we? heheh.
posted by bryanboyer at 7:06 PM on July 26, 2000

This is probably the least surprising ruling I've seen this year. Was Napster aiding copyright infringement? Well, yes, of course they were. It isn't really a question - given the current state of copyright law (big caveat) - of how rich a copyright holder is, or the value of one copyright over another, or who owns which copyrights of whose material. It wasn't a question of the "fairness" of taking material without permission because someone might buy something else as a result.

The black and white issue was fairly clear from the beginning.

Are copyrights being violated? Yes. Was Napster contributing to those violations? Yes. Answer: Shut it down.

I thought using Sony's winning argument about the use of VCRs and comparing that to Napster was interesting. And also saying that Napster was just a very (very, very, very) big form of tape-sharing was also an angle worth considering.

Anyway... genie? Bottle. Go in the bottle now, Genie. Genie! Genie, get back in the bottle! Genie! Now, Genie!

posted by honkzilla at 7:23 PM on July 26, 2000

Napster doesnt exist. Record sales are normal.Napster is released. Record sales go up.Napster is shut down. What happens next? I'm boycotting the RIAA by not buying any more CDs (including the three I was going to buy this weekend) until... well, until the RIAA does something to redeem themselves, I guess. For the first 14 years of my life, I never bought albums (I pretty much started around when Napster came out), I can stop again. Now, is anyone with me?
posted by deckard at 7:26 PM on July 26, 2000

c|net says it will take effect Friday at 12:00 pm, pst.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 7:31 PM on July 26, 2000

What about the artist who was legally distributing his own music, to which he held the copyright, on Napster? Musician Chris Johnson posted a long message on Slashdot today about RIAA shutting down one of his primary distribution channels.

A quote: "I am a musician ... I had songs on Napster BY REQUEST. I
publically asked people to put my songs off in their Napster
directories, if they could, if they didn't mind taking the trouble
to do so. I own my songs AND the mechanical recordings of 'em and
I have an absolute right to permit such distribution. Napster is
being shut down anyhow- the RIAA lawyers successfully convinced the
judge that _I_ don't exist, just like the RIAA continually tries to
convince the listening public that I don't exist, that nobody like
me exists."

The real reason for rampant MP3 piracy isn't Napster -- it's the growth in usership of faster bandwidth. You can't stop people from swapping MP3s of their favorite music as long as the Internet exists. The RIAA should try to get an injunction against the Internet if they want to make a difference. All the closure of Napster's servers will accomplish is a huge popularity surge for all the peer-to-peer alternatives that don't ever use a central server.
posted by rcade at 7:31 PM on July 26, 2000

Dreama: Well, I definitely believe that what Napster Inc is doing is far worse than the average college kid pulling a few songs off the Net here and there. Most analysts say Napster would be a multi-billion dollar company instantaneously if it weren't for the lawsuits. A multi-billion dollar company based on nothing but MP3 trading.

As for trading itself, I am somewhat ambivalent. I don't know what other people do, but I generally grab MP3s of songs that are long out of print, only available on full albums and/or that I already bought once but lost years ago because the tapes went bad, people took the CDs, I left them in my parents' house in the basement, etc. Regarding the first two reasons, I'd be happy to pay for the individual songs if there were any way to do so, but there generally isn't. (I used to buy tons of Personics tapes back when they were around, but of course they couldn't get many record companies or the RIAA to work with them either.) Regarding the third, once I've bought it, I've bought it, and I have the right to continue to listen to it in any format I wish, today or 100 years from now.

I don't think the Betamax argument works here, though. That ruling was about the right of people to tape shows off the air that were being offered to them free of charge anyway, and then watching them when and how they wished. Sony wasn't attempting to take the TV shows of other companies, stripping out the commercials and then giving or selling the tapes to VCR users. Napster is about compiling a gigantic database of music, all of which no one person could possibly ever own even 1% of, and letting them pick at will.
posted by aaron at 7:50 PM on July 26, 2000

Chris Johnson has a good point. The problem is twofold:

1) In this specific case, well over 99% percent of Napster's database is not of music put there by artists specifically requesting it, but instead of music put out by record companies that they do not want to be there.

2) Napster argued in court that to make any attempt to separate the Chris Johnson songs of the world from the Metallica songs of the world would be of such a detriment to Napster Inc that they probably wouldn't survive. And that's pretty much a de facto admission that Napster can't survive without illegal trading. Oops.
posted by aaron at 7:56 PM on July 26, 2000

In a surprise decision Judge Patel declares stealing to be illegal!

Napster users whine and cry! "We need Napster to be happy!"

One user vows to hold his breath until the judge relents.

Distraught and hysterical users band together for large "pout ins."

One user is quoted: "I NEED Napster! Before Napster my life was just awful. Completely devoid of meaning. I can't go back to those days. I can't handle it."

Others users indicate that they will continue stealing no matter what the judge says. "It's our right to steal and to help others steal. Those old farts just don't get it. Stealing is the future. They can't stop us."
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:27 PM on July 26, 2000

News Flash!

United States declares sharing illegal. Janet Reno is quoted as saying, "Only governments and big business are allowed to lie, cheat, and steal. Pass me another Marlboro, Billy."

Pursuant to this case, the Care Bears, famous for their slogan "Sharing is Caring", were recently put in a federal penitentiary. Although they have filed suit against the government for mistreatment and neglect, nothing is expected to come of the case. As it is, they are being gang-raped and publicly brutalized. One prison guard, who chose to remain anonymous, said "I ain't seen nothing. Nudge nudge wink wink."

An anonymous musician affiliated with the RIAA, when informed of the decision, told us that "the judge made the right decision. Nobody should be able to listen to my music but me."

A spokesman for the RIAA said, "I don't think it's fair that artists get free publicity like this. They damn well better pay for their publicity, and they damn well better go through OUR channels. Nobody can do it on their own, and anybody that tries is going to get crushed just like these weasels."
posted by fable at 9:15 PM on July 26, 2000

Since when did art become big business? Perhaps I'm showing some serious naivete here, but music is art. If a musician is in it for the money and not in it to express themselves/make a difference/etc, then it's my opinion that they're in the wrong business. I feel no pity for those getting "stolen from." When they made the choice to release their music, they made the choice for anyone to hear it in any format they chose.

Of course this is coming from a person who is rather heavily into the tape trading scene and would rather spend 10 bucks on a CD from an artist I've been sitting in a bar and talking to for an hour than from the lastest one-hit wonder. I have nothing against bands being successful. I do have something against them getting greedy.

But then, I never liked Metallica anyway...
posted by amandaudoff at 9:20 PM on July 26, 2000

I can't understand why the RIAA is so blind.

Downloaded a few Portishead tracks at work this afternoon, and bought the CD on the way home. . . .

They've effectively squashed the greatest music marketing tool since MTV. Plain ass silly.
posted by aladfar at 9:38 PM on July 26, 2000

I don't understand why people would be pissed off. I mean, maybe if the great majority of artists available via Napster requested that people share their songs, it would be fine, but crying because you can't share something that you were never allowed to in the first place is another. You want samples? Go to any major e-tailer and listen to their real/liquid/mpeg samples.
posted by gyc at 9:47 PM on July 26, 2000

Congratulations to the recording industry. One network down. About fifty to go.

Major Nelson must be really pissed.
posted by alana at 9:55 PM on July 26, 2000

Dreama talked about "protect[ing] artists copyrights". Trouble is, recording artists signed to major labels don't own their copyrights. The record company does. So the Napster decision isn't about artists copyrights in any way - it's about businesses who own copyrights they acquired from others - and in my view, they often acquire these in ways that are less than honest and fair.

Doesn't mean that Napster is any less a piracy tool - but don't wrap yourself in "but what about the artists" to support this decision. The artists have already been sold down the river (save for indies who self-release or artists that own their record company like Ani Difranco or Sarah McLachlan).

I would have preferred a ruling like this to be attached to the other side of it - a call for an investigation into the labels' purchase of copyrights and financial treatment of the artists.
posted by mikel at 4:33 AM on July 27, 2000

Boycott RIAA

Hatch gave the indication a couple weeks ago that he may consider having an investigation made on anti-trust accusations of the RIAA. I'd like to see more pressure on the senate to follow through on that threat.

Napster didn't have enough money to buy their way out of this. This is legislation and judicial decision for the highest bidder, and RIAA simply had more money.

I scoff at those of you who now call this stealing. Six months ago no one called it stealing. What? Ulrich's emotional and grammatically correct senate hearing speech actually persuaded you? Screw Metallica.

How fickle the reeds in the field. How shallow the sheep in the pasture.

David Bowie. He's not resting on the laurels of past accomplishments. He's taken the 21st century by the horns and is riding that muther ino the new millenium. How old is that bastard? Jesus! He never ceases to amaze me. THIS is how you get and keep an audience in the digital age.

When I buy a CD, I should have control over that CD. If I want to throw it against a wall, I can do that if I wish. If I want my friends to listen to it with me, I can do that. If I want to share it with my friends, I can do that. It is when I financially benefit from the copyrighted works of others that I am infringing on the rights of said copyright owner. Up until that point, I am exercising my own rights. And damn the RIAA for restricting me of my freedoms, and the freedoms of over twenty million americans, because they fear and misunderstand this technology.

Boycott RIAA. You want new music? We don't need the RIAA. We don't need Napster. Napster was mostly just for regurgitating the music of the past anyway. There's a motherlode of new stuff out there, that the RIAA doesn't own, doesn't have the brains to procure, and would ruin anyway if it got its greedy paws on it.

We should turn our backs on any artist working within the pathetic bloated establishment of the music industry. Independent artists. Independent labels. Musicians in your own home town, from the garage band breaking new ground to the bum on the street corner with a saxophone.

There's a New Kid In Town. And it rocks.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:00 AM on July 27, 2000

As for the boycott, here's what I've been doing since the MP3 debates began: all music on major labels that I want, I will only buy USED. All music on independent labels that I want, I buy new, and I buy a lot more of it than I used to. My favorite albums of the past few weeks have been Belle & Sebastian's latest and the recent Apples in Stereo release, both indie albums, both magically delicious.
posted by wiremommy at 10:42 AM on July 27, 2000

Unfortunately, wiremommy, the Apples In Stereo and Belle & Sebastian are on labels which are distributed by ADA (Alternative Distribution Alliance) which is owned by... WEA! Another big "indie" distributor is RED, which is owned by Sony.

Speaking as an indie musician, I usually feel like we're all fucked. However, a good source for information (and, possibly, hope) is the Coalition for The Future Of Music, which was founded by (among others) Jenny Toomey, indie musician, former co-owner of the Simple Machines label, and now Washington lobbyist as well. (She rocks).
posted by EssenDreck at 11:08 AM on July 27, 2000

i'm sort of in-between feelings. i mean, when i first heard about metallica sueing them, i knew it was a matter of time before they got shut down. because EVERYBODY knew they were breaking copyright laws, and i'm sure napster knew it themselves. but i never saw a problem with it, because as far as i knew they weren't making money from it (which aparently isn't true) and it wasn't like i got on the service to download entire cds. i basically used napster to "try before i bought." if i heard a nice song on tv, or the radio, i'd download a few others by the artist to see if i wanted to get the cd. and most of the time, i went out to buy it anyway. i've heard of artists through napster that i wouldn't have seen otherwise. and a lot of the time, i wouldn't have been able to get a cd anyway. but through this, i still at least got to hear the music, which i'm sure is important to the artists just as much as the money. and if they were in it just to get paid (like the fascist metallica bastards. grrrrr.) then. well. fuck them. i want my free illegal music. ;)
posted by josh m at 12:10 PM on July 27, 2000

plus, i really think there's no point in boycotting the RIAA, because it's not going to make a difference. for every one person who refuses to buy a cd on a major label, i'm sure there's at least twenty others who don't care as long as they're hearing the music they want to.
posted by josh m at 12:25 PM on July 27, 2000

EssenDreck: I realize that. The big guys get their cut no matter what you buy; all you can control is how much you give them. I try to give them as little as I can.

To paraphrase KRS-One, there is no pure way for an artist to get his message out; there is no medium, no venue, which is not corrupt. Corporate music has their fingers in everything. As fans, we can only choose to support artists in ways that are slightly less corrupt than others.

Josh M.: Your argument is reductive. There's no point in boycotting RIAA because most people won't boycott RIAA? Even if only one in twenty people participates in a boycott, that will make an appreciable drop in sales and send the message.
posted by wiremommy at 12:59 PM on July 27, 2000

I have one problem with downloading and spreading MP3 files around the world. On commerical Cd releases is a warning - On every commerical CD I have there is a statement - "Unauthorized copying, hiring, lending, public performance, and broadcasting of this recording prohibited". They keywords here, folks, are "unauthorized copying" and "prohibited".

People seem to either ignore that, or else forget it.

How is this different to say, ripping off the design og I just don't get it. I'm sure there'd be hassle over me doing such things - because it's copyrighted. Same as a music CD.
posted by tomcosgrave at 1:39 PM on July 27, 2000

I scoff at those of you who now call this stealing. Six months ago no one called it stealing.

If, six months ago, we didn't call a horse a horse, we called him a dog, did that make him a dog, or did it make us wrong? My bets here ain't on dog.

You folks can do better than these arguments. All I'm seeing here is a lot of entitlement speech and class envy rambling, but not one, legitimate, intellectually sound reason to justify a damn thing.
posted by Dreama at 2:16 PM on July 27, 2000

I haven't seen a legitimate, intellectually sound reason to justify the shutting down of Napster. People use the Napster server to find other people who are willing to send them music. Regardless of Napster's end motives, what they are doing is not illegal. Shutting down Napster is like shutting down the Internet just because Middle Eastern 'terrorists' just might be using it to send e-mails (as all the anti-encryption bureaucrats tell us).
posted by fable at 5:06 PM on July 27, 2000

Copyright law has been subjected to numerous changes throughout history to adapt to then-current conditions while still maintaining an acceptable balance between the rights of the creator not to be exploited and the danger of copyright becoming an absolute monopoly over distribution of and access to said copyrighted materials, granting the public the right to access information.

Now, music is not information as I have been referring to it, but the fundamental principle remains the same. And when an organization such as the RIAA monopolizes access to and distribution of the copyrighted material, then the public turns to Napster, which allows the free flow of information, or music, without monopoly.

Unfortunately, trading music online is also a violation of copyright (and moral) law, in that it does violate the rights of the artists to receive fair compensation for their work (and I daresay that we'd all agree that no compensation is not fair). So we're left with what is essentially a case of two pretty dark greys and no whites: either the public's right to access copyrighted material in a fair manner is being violated by current distribution channels, or the artists' rights are being violated by the unrestricted and uncompensated distribution of their work.

What I'm getting to is the fact that there is no easy way out of this. While Napster itself is not actually breaking any laws, its users are, and that is wrong. On the other hand, we do have the right to access art, a right which the RIAA is doing its damnedest to monopolize in regard to music.

So, no, I can't provide justification for the common stance, but then again, I can't find justification for the opposite stance. It's obvious that copyright law will have to undergo some rapid and drastic evolution, but some compromise will be made. All struggle throughout history is an outflowing of new ideas trying to find their place in an old institution. We are (hopefully) on an inevitable course to a freer flow of information of all types. But we also are trying to balance old ideas of morality with this new, open, environment, and ultimately need to find some sort of compromise.
posted by fable at 5:45 PM on July 27, 2000

> To paraphrase KRS-One, there is no pure way for an artist to get his message out; there is no medium, no venue, which is not corrupt. Corporate music has their fingers in everything. As fans, we can only choose to support artists in ways that are slightly less corrupt than others.

Um, Napster, maybe?

Seems pretty pure to *me*. The corporation may not be, but the protocol is not the corporation.

Ok. Maybe it *is* stealing.

You happy now?

But you still cannot put the damned genie back in the bottle. You can't. The Napster servers not run by Napster Inc, and the upsurge in Gnutella et al prove this.

It's over. Start counting the bodies, and get on with it. If the law can't adapt to reality, the law is an ass.
posted by baylink at 8:19 PM on July 27, 2000

If it's stealing then I'm happy to say I'm a thief!
posted by FAB4GIRL at 9:50 PM on July 27, 2000

How is this different to say, ripping off the design og I just don't get it. I'm sure there'd be hassle over me doing such things - because it's copyrighted. Same as a music CD.

Not actually being Derek, I can't say for certain, but I've read enough of his work, and seen such events happen before, to be able to make a fairly sound argument.

If someone were to completely rip-off Derek's site for personal usage he probably wouldn't mind that much. Standard practice these days seems to be "Hey, so-and-so ripped off my site. Wow, is that ever lame." thereby unleashing the mass of fans someone like Derek has.

I also imagine Derek would sen so-and-so and email, to the tunes of "Hey, dude. That's just not cool, putting that up there and calling it your own. You're welcome to learn from it, but do something that's your own, that you can show the world and say 'Hey, I made this. I fucking rock.' rather than something that the world sees as lame." Except, you know, sounding more like Derek. Better written, I imagine.

Then, of course, the unwashed (hey, it's hard to shower when you're glued to your monitors for 50 hours at a time :-) masses would immediately commence flaming and sever mockitude would be inflicted upon so-and-so.

It's a self-governing public.

Now, if it were a site that's making money off Derek's design (ie, if someone copied { fray } and started charging people to see the stories) that's a completely different story.

Napster made money because of it's popularity. Be it Venture Capital, or be it advertising dollars, they made money because they took other peoples' work and used it to get money. That, in essence, is my beef with Napster, but also why I'm happy to use Gnutella or FreeNet - neither is a business, they're both protocols, essentially.

MP3 sharing, and Napster providing access to share MP3s are two different things.
posted by cCranium at 8:00 AM on July 28, 2000

Here's the difference, cC: No one is putting their own name on Dr. Dre songs and putting them out as their own work, saying "Yo, check out my fly rhyming style!" People are trading around Dr. Dre songs, saying "Here's a cool Dre jam, check it out!"

It's the equivalent of setting up a mirror site of one of Powazek's sites, WITH HIS NAME PRESERVED, without asking him first. Maybe he'd be upset that you're hosting a mirror of his site. Maybe he'd be glad that you're getting his work out. Maybe he wouldn't care. But you wouldn't be stealing his design to pass off as your own, you'd be copying it and crediting him because you like his work and you want more people to see it.
posted by wiremommy at 10:40 AM on July 28, 2000

::rolls eyes.:: it's illegal either way. HERE's an analogy that i think fits here. it's the same as walking into a bookstore and picking up a book on the shelf, and then walking out without paying for it, and then photocopying the book and giving it out to other people. you'd be arrested for stealing the book. and i never said that napster and its users weren't stealing. because they are, and i'm actually surprised people are defending themselves saying they aren't. AND, according to copyright laws, if someone mirrored this 'powazek' site, and even if they said it didn't belong to them, they would still be violating the creator's copyright unless they had gotten permission to use it.
posted by josh m at 11:01 AM on July 28, 2000

it's illegal either way

Sure it's illegal! I don't think people should try all that hard to justify it other than this: The system is unfair.

Whether "system" means copyright laws or the RIAA's stranglehold on the future of musicians, if the system is unfair, then it's the responsibility of the people to try to change that system. Obviously a lot of people think that Congress is in the recording industry's deep pockets (to mix a metaphor) anyway and that trying to change the system through "proper" channels isn't going to work.

What's a good way to go about changing a corrupt system? Civil disobedience in huge numbers. The more people, the better. They can't stop everyone, and at some point, it becomes better to change the system to suit the masses than to keep trying to push them around.

Now, I'm not saying that all Napster/Gnutella/etc users are this organized, or that their thoughts go any deeper on the issue than, "Cooool, I don't have to pay for this!" But in effect Napster and its ilk have channelled (possibly unconcious) public sentiment that the current system of distributing music is corrupt into mass civil disobedience.

And I think we'll all agree that no matter what happens, the system is going to change as a result.
posted by daveadams at 11:18 AM on July 28, 2000

People are trading around Dr. Dre songs, saying "Here's a cool Dre jam, check it out!"

No, you're absoluetely right.

Napster's been saying "Come here trade music, spread the noise." to people. Which is cool. But they also go to Venture Capitalists and say "Hey, look, we've got X terrabytes of data travelling through are system. Can you captive audience? Cha-CHING!" and getting money that they'll turn around and support AppleSauce with.

Sharing music is not wrong, I've never argued that it is, and in fact I've argued quite strenuously that sharing music is the best way to raise interest in music and to change the current, flawed, system.

Making money off of other peoples' work, however, is wrong. That's what everyone complains about music companies and RIAA members doing - they're making scads of money off musicians work.

posted by cCranium at 11:49 AM on July 28, 2000

I just heard on the news that the appeal went through, and napster's not going to get shut off. i'm trying to get on the website to see if it's right or not, but the server's down... bah.
posted by josh m at 4:23 PM on July 28, 2000

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