What's Next for Napster?
Your very informative article on Napster, the music-file-sharing program [TECHNOLOGY, Oct. 2], drove home one critical point: Napster sends a clear-cut message to the recording industry and also sends a strong edict to the artists themselves. Gone are the days when the consumer was forced to purchase a 15-song album only to end up stuck with 14 mediocre tracks and one stellar one. As people pick and choose music by the song and not the album, recording artists will certainly feel the pressure to provide the consumer with an all-around quality product. One good song out of 15 will no longer be sufficient. TOM ATKINS Sherman Oaks, Calif.
In spite of Napster founder Shawn Fanning's self-portrait as a poor, starving code renegade, the fact remains that his company is a well-financed corporate entity. If you take away the glamour of computer-era hype, what Fanning has done is not new: from the Tin Pan Alley days, businesspeople have sought to rip off artists for profit. But things have progressed. Song sharks used to be small-time hustlers; today they are glorified on the cover of TIME magazine. ERIC VINCENT Philadelphia
For the past 15 years, I've been trying to track down albums by relatively obscure 1980s bands to no avail. I'm generally met with blank stares or the usual "It's out of print." Napster technology has made it possible for me and thousands of others like me to finally have copies of this material. The record industry long ago declared these bands unprofitable; they stopped pressing their albums and did not release their work on CDs. Now the companies want to cry foul and claim we're stealing the music without paying for it. Hey, I would gladly shell out the $15 if the CD were for sale. I shed no tears for the recording industry. The way I see it, they've left us no alternative. ANDREA STILWELL Monona, Wis.
If I walked into a store, picked up a CD, put it in my pocket and walked out the door, I would be arrested. I don't understand why if I do the same thing on the Internet, there is any question about the legality of this act. If it is against the law in person, it should be against the law in cyberspace! SUZY MURPHY Cheyenne, Wyo.
Musicians and record companies are screaming over the theft of "intellectual property" when what they should be doing is asking themselves how they can better meet the demands of an ever fickle population of music lovers. JULIA L. LANE Canal Winchester, Ohio
Like many people our age, we have a large vinyl and tape collection, which, because of children, space, technology, etc., has been banished to the attic. Using Napster, we can once again listen to the music we already have on vinyl. We haven't downloaded anything we don't already own on vinyl or tape. Napster has saved us a lot of time and effort in switching to the new technology. MARSHALL AND KATHY LANDIS Baltimore, Md.
People seem to have lost sight of the bottom line: musicians incur costs to record CDs, and many people support families with less-than-glamorous jobs to put these albums out. You can't convince me that a college student who is able to download a whole CD for free on his computer is still going to run out and purchase that recording. Fanning is a punk who is making money off other people's labor. TRACY PASEMAN Issaquah, Wash.