Don’t under-estimate the power of Free Speech. The ability of Napster to
publish software that allows consumers to exchange music files appears solidly
protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The music recording
industry will be no less able to prevent Napster from publishing its software
than it could force the post office to stop consumers from exchanging
copyrighted music copied onto audio tapes or CDs through the mail.
The ability to publish is an unalienable right so deeply rooted into the
American psyche and legal system that an attack on Napster’s publishing rights
would be an assault on the US Constitution. While lower courts may find reason
to fault Napster, the case will ultimately land in the hands of the Supreme
Court, which will have a difficult time finding a constitutional argument
against Napster’s business.
Metalica and the rest of the recording industry who so strongly oppose
Napster also appear incredibly shortsighted. Already, studies are coming out
showing that the average Napster member spends far more on music CD purchases
than their peers who don’t use the service.
Common sense dictates that people who go through the trouble of using Napster
are among the savviest consumers, the most into music and the most likely to
spend a lot of their money in pursuit of their digital hobby. The more time they
spend on things related to music, the more likely they are to spend money on the
music. The Napsters are no different from the sixties kids and their Akai tape
recorders and the nineties generation of digital audio fans.
Napster may well be the best thing to happen to the recording industry, which
should be reminded that for the past 15-20 years, popular music, from top 40 to
hard rock, hasn’t exactly lived up to the quality levels of the sixties and
seventies. Can you name 10 "classic" 1990s tunes that are likely to be
played almost daily in 2015? I, for one, "can’t get no satisfaction"
from today’s tunes!
It’s remarkable how strong music sales are, in the absence of the kind of
diversity and creativeness that the post-WWII generations were fortunate to grow