Winter spends most of the film focused on the dichotomy between Shawn Fanning, Napster, and the Record Industry. He showed Shawn and his friends as wide eyed kids who were just out to create a computer program to allow people to share music. Deep down did they know that they were facilitating piracy? I think they did. They seemed to hide behind the “File Sharing” statement over and over throughout the movie.
During the 90’s the internet was still relatively unknown. People thought it was a giant computer that we could use to get data. Most users of the internet were fairly young college students. That was the demographic that Shawn and his friends went after. Their idea to take the basic principle of IRC, connecting people, to a new level and begin connecting computers was brilliant.
Technology and the Music Industry
The record industry was caught completely unaware of this technology. The industry during the 90’s and early 2000’s had become giant corporations who focused on their profits and not on the artist’s creativity.
In the documentary, John Stewart, said “Today, the courts agreed. It’s the record companies who hold the patent on cheating musicians out of money” as part of his Comedy Central Show.
Director, Alex Winter focused on the Record Industry and RIAA as the big corporate meanies who were squashing Napster. The Huffington Post state that the music royalties became the focus of the story. “In a scene before a Senate committee Roger McGuinn of the Byrd’s explains how successful they were and how little they got paid. It made my heart break. Who earns the money? Who gets to keep it? Napster created a new possibility, the idea of an alternative system of reward.”
How did the Artists feel?
There was a wide disparage between the artists that they interviewed for the movie as well. It almost felt like a line from Jane Austin’s Emma “I love Napster, I hate Napster” If the artists weren’t making money from the Record Industry, why would they mind if Napster shared it for free?
Lars Ulrich from Metallica and Dr. Dre became the face of the artist opposition. Lars took reams of paper with the user names of the people he felt were stealing their music.
He stated that “He wasn’t holding those people accountable, but Napster for allowing their access to pirate Metallica’s music”. Dr. De wasn’t as poetic with his “F**k Napster”.
What is defined as Piracy?
The dictionary defines Piracy as “Internet Piracy - Computer Definition. (legal term) Using the Internet to illegally copy and/or distribute software, which is an infringement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or DMCA) in the United State. Napster felt that they were in the right because in their eyes they did adhere to the Digital Millennium Copy Right Act. But the courts did not seem to agree.