His Napster's Voice
David G. Post
OTI/New America Foundation
Temple Enviromental Law and Technology Journal, Vol. 20, 2001
There is a "Napster problem," but it is not that people are using the remarkable new tools at their disposal in cyberspace to accomplish previously unimaginable feats of information-sharing and information-redistribution; that is not really a problem at all, that is the solution to a problem, the problem of finding better ways to get more information more quickly to more people. The "Napster problem" is not that information is being shared but that information is being smuggled - across the border, from realspace to cyberspace (and, somewhat more metaphorically, from the past to the future). Solving the "Napster problem," then, might not necessarily mean figuring out ways to impose an unnecessary copyright regime on the information circulating on the global network; it might mean figuring out ways to reduce the incidence of smuggling, and/or to compensate those whose works are being smuggled, across the border into cyberspace. It means focusing our attention on devising ways that copyright can continue to do its work (if and where it is needed) and can disappear (if and where it is not). What we need are ways to build better borders, tools for making the boundary between realspace and cyberspace more impermeable. It sounds like a task that is either ridiculous or impossible, but it is neither.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: copyright, internet, Napster, peer-to-peer fileshar
JEL Classification: K11
Date posted: November 11, 2006
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