Kazaa and Copyright

English 111

16 December 2003

There are a lot of arguments going on about the way music sharing companies run and how they can let people share and pass out artists’ songs for free. Kazaa is “file-sharing software that hooks up to a network where people can copy songs without paying for them” (CNEWS.com). Some people make compact discs of them and play them time and time again for no cost. Record companies and songs artists are trying to get Kazaa and even the users in trouble for downloading and getting their music for free.

I feel that the music artists and song writers are out of line with their complaints about file-sharing by the simple fact that they make money on their record sales and they do not have the rights to sue companies or even have users arrested for downloading music. Not even singers or song-writers know completely what copyright is or what is involved in the laws. An author or a book called Copyright and Multimedia Works said “We have both the general feeling that we know what it is all about and the strange feeling that we are still not completely familiar with the full technology and reality” (Stamatoudi 7). I will debate that Kazaa has the right to let users listen to music for free as long as they are not selling CD’s. There are file-sharing users who have been caught selling the CD’s and I do feel that these people should be punished. Yet there are people being punished for just simple downloading and listening to music and not knowing they are even doing anything wrong. Some users know that Kazaa should be protected by copyright laws. “Copyright protects authors, but as a practical matter it is the “works” of the author that are protected. Copyright protects works as forms of expression rather than authors as creators or certain types of works.” (ABC of Copyright).

Another file-sharing company in the past was called Napster. Napster got shut down by the recording industry who took the company to court for copyright infringement and won. The difference between Napster and Kazaa is that Kazaa’s users trade files through anonymous “supernodes.” Supernodes are files that are in a way, hidden from outside users. These supernodes are also related to the definition of multimedia works which, according to Stamatoudi is “…a convergence of video, audio and telephony technologies” (Stamatoudi 17). A judge cannot pull the plug on Kazaa the way the he did to Napster. The record industry, which consists of a majority of the song writers and artists, are trying to get Kazaa to be out of business and eventually have to pay a monthly or annual fee to share files through Kazaa.

I feel that the recording artists such as rapper 50 Cent make so much money from their record sales that users of Kazaa have the obligation, through contract with Kazaa, to get songs for free from them and other artists. “Contracts are legal instruments essential to the exploitation of copyrights, from the moment of creation of a work to its end use by the consumer.” (Guibault 125). For example, “50 Cent sold over 870,000 copies of his new record the first week it was out” (Wired.com). Justin Timberlake is another example of this when he is the top record seller in the music business this year with over 2 million sales. These artists are making millions and millions of dollars on record sales in just a short amount of time.

There is another issue about entertainment companies that are using unauthorized versions of Kazaa’s software to snoop into users accounts. How can it be legal to use unauthorized versions of Kazaa and users’ not be allowed to download music from an authorized and legal version of Kazaa? Unauthorized versions of Kazaa are why the company is suing entertainment companies for getting into the files of users. Kazaa filed a lawsuit on the entertainment companies such as Rockapella Records and Bad Boy Records, accusing them of using “Kazaa Lite, a replica of Kazaa illegally to get into the shared files of users and try and sue them for piracy”(CNEWS.com). If these companies are going to perform illegal actions, then innocent users who are just