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Online Piracy Essay

4125 words - 17 pages

Communications Online Piracy

1.0 Introduction

In 1998 a software program by the name of Napster appeared on the internet that allowed its users to trade music online. This program moved from it’s mainly university distribution to commuters around the globe and a piracy ring developed at a phenomenal rate almost over night. In only months the program had become the most downloaded software on the internet and billions of pirated songs were being switched daily. This essay will look at the rise of Pear to Pear (P2P) software programs. It will also look at phenomenal rate at which internet piracy has grown and how it has brought a multi billion dollar industry to its knees.

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The operating system transformed the desktop PC into a system that could be used by even the most in-experienced user. Prior to Windows 95 a computer user needed some degree of knowledge to use a computer. In the following years internet connections became readily available to the home computer and by 1998 here were approximately 101 million people connected to the internet. Home computing had reached a point were piracy was possible over the internet.

In 1998 computer programmer Shawn Fanning created a computer program that enabled its users to switch songs between computers via the internet. The program was similar to that of an internet search engine. It allowed its users to search for song files stored on other computes around the world and download these files. It was this program that changed the way people would use the internet.

In a single year the program had reached gigantic proportions. The program Napster had moved to a commercial server and had company its own right.

A user on the internet would connect to the Napster server where the program would add the user’s song lists to the pool of songs available for download. When a Napster user uses the search feature they were searching with in this pool of songs available. Once a particular user has found a song they want to download they would click the file and the computer at the other end would begin to send that song. This also worked the other way. Another person on the other side of the globe could search the Napster network and locate songs hosted on our original user’s computer and request for these songs. The user computer would then being to send these songs to the user possible on the other side of the globe. This technology was dubbed “Peer to Peer” technology as it was users connecting to users to download. All Napster did was provide the means of doing this.

The explosion of this “song stealing” software caught the attention of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The RIAA represents 5 of the worlds largest record selling company’s who were beginning to feel the effects of the programs use, as people stopped buying CD’s and began downloading them off the internet for free.

From 1999 – 2001 the RIAA battled the courts to shut down Napster which had grown to astronomical proportions and was distributing more songs then the RIAA itself – all stolen materials.

The RIAA claimed that Napster provided a platform for people to steel but was unable to shut the program down as Napster could prove that it had done nothing wrong. It claimed that its users were the ones breaking copy rights and not the program itself.

In 2001 the RIAA proposed to the courts to force Napster to filter all copyrighted content on its server. This ultimately caused Napster to fail and once the filter had been implemented its fan base dropped off over night.

After Napster’s demise new technologies sprung up on the internet that allowed the...

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