I’ve held my mouth shut for some time concerning Napster and file-sharing in general. Mostly because I did not wish to offend people close to me that are participating in this activity. I realize that this has been a mistake.
As a music-lover, I completely understand the desire to listen to music for free. The Internet has made this extremely convenient. However, the majority of this music is copyrighted, and the holders of those copyrights do not always wish for this music to be distributed over the Internet without it being paid for. This is their right, and to violate this right is an act of theft.
This has been viewed as a gray issue for most of the people that I’ve talked to. It is not. The difference between stealing a CD from a music store and copying digital information that is copyrighted is a matter of degree. Both acts are acts of theft. To say that one is better than the other is like saying, “Stealing a car radio is better than stealing the entire car.” Both are wrong.
Some say that Napster has helped the recording industry. Whether this statement is true or not is irrelevant. The fact is that you are still taking this music without the permission of the artists, and more importantly, the record labels, who have contracts with these artists to be allowed to publish the music.
I am especially disappointed in the fact that so few of the students at this university have taken a stand against this kind of theft. But you still have the opportunity to do what is right. The choice is still yours to stop stealing and encourage others not to steal. I hope you choose what you should know in your minds to be right.