Introduction to Computer Information Systems and Ethics

History of Computer Ethics

Ethical Use of Music

Napster Logo

he sharing of music over the internet has continuously been a problem over the past few years and it is still a major problem today. The music controversy began with Napster, a peer-to-peer file sharing web application that was created to allow users to share music files via the internet. Napster originally started as a small web application for a few friends to share music on, but as the application grew in users, it began to strike the attention of the music industry. Some artists, specifically Metallica and Dr. Dre who filed a law suit against Napster, were outraged at the web application and in 2001, Napster finally closed due to the losing of a lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America. Napster and other peer-to-peer sharing websites that still exist today, such as The Pirate Bay, Mediafire, and Megaupload, are a large controversy because the copying of songs for non-commercial use is legal under the fair use concept, however, downloading files from a peer-to-peer website without compensating the artist is a violation of copyright law under Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

There are several websites that can be used to convert YouTube videos to a MP3 format you can download to your computer. The most well known of these programs is called ClipConverter, but there are other programs. ClipConverter is a free online-based service that converts any online video to a MP4 or MP3, and then these files can be downloaded to your computer. There have been similar programs in the past, but these have been deactivated due to pressure from Google, the owner of YouTube. ClipConverter converter continues to operate because of the guidelines and rules placed on users. Users are allowed to download the videos for fair use meaning personal, non-commercial use. Personal use of a video is legal, but if a user sells the video for profit, or passes it off as his/her own, that is a copyright violation, and illegal. As a condition of using the ClipConverter service, the user agrees to use the video only for personal use, and agrees to not involve ClipConverter in any type of copyright lawsuit brought against the user. It is this policy and other strict user rules and policies that allow ClipConverter to operate in a legal way.

New youtube logo

To combat the infringement of copyright law due to illegal file sharing, the music industry began placing Digital Rights Management (DRM) control on downloaded files so that they couldn't be shared. However, this also stopped users from being able to transfer the files to other personal devices. Today, many music downloading services, such as Apple's iTunes, have switched to MP3 or MP4 formats to allow users to view files on multiple personal devices.