Napster was a program that revolutionized the music industry. Although there was much objection to Napster because music was being pirated, it also was able to show the industry a new way of distributing music. Clearly, the artists and labels were not going to like their music being distributed for free, so it is not surprising that Napster faced many legal issues, including lawsuits from Metallica and Dr. Dre.
At the time of Napster’s emergence, music was controlled by labels and distributed in the form of CD. Napster was a window into the future where CD’s are less common and getting single tracks from the internet and iTunes is the norm. I do not think that our current system would be possible without Napster. Napster made people think that the internet would turn the music industry into anarchy. However, today it is possible to get free music, but it is more difficult. Service providers such as Amazon and iTunes sell music downloads. As more time passes, I think it is likely that there will be more and more control of music downloads. It only took a decade for itunes and Amazon to take some amount of control. Imagine what is possible in the future.
Many people are opposed to more control over music. They believe that they should be able to get their music at no cost to themselves on the grounds that music is an intellectual property and should be shared. I am part of the opposition to this belief. To create even just a single track takes immense work from an artist. I would argue that if they create it, then they own it. It is only fair that if they choose to share it they should profit. If people did not contribute to the art in some way, they do not deserve ownership of it without compensation. It would be as if an artist painted a painting and let people put it in there house for a time without pay. This sounds absurd, and so is pirating music.
A popular argument for free music is that record companies make enough money as it is and should just let listeners have their music. For me, success doesn’t mean that one is not deserving to profit anymore, it simply means that the artist has a knack and makes a quality product. This argument is akin to saying we are not going to renew LeBron James’s contract on the grounds that he has been too good.
In conclusion, I believe that the music industry is making steps to create a good system that will make everyone happy. I also believe that we are some time away.