Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium 2003 NECC Ė June 2003

Ethics in the Age of Napster and MP3

Betsy Frederick

Celia Einhorn

Introduction and Constituent Groups

The MP3 format is a compression system for music. The MP3 format helps reduce the number of bytes in a song without hurting the quality of the song's sound. The goal of the MP3 format is to compress a CD-quality song by a factor of 10 to 14 without losing the CD-quality sound. With MP3, a 32-megabyte (MB) song on a CD compresses down to about 3 MB. This lets you download a song in minutes rather than hours, and store hundreds of songs on your computer's hard disk without taking up that much space.

Is the music industry out of tune with the digital age? Are musicians greedy? Should music be free? What is the copyright law concerning intellectual property? What is fair use? Do todayís students "shoplift" music? How are new musicians introducing their music? Do people over 30 have a different take on this topic? MP3 suggests lessons for the music industry and for copyright issues.

Your local school board is meeting in about twenty minutes to decide whether or not the district should develop a policy restricting the use of MP3 files. The principals are concerned about liability. Teachers have just completed an in-service on being sensitive to student culture. Parents have different concerns about school influence on their childrenís ethical education. The Board has invited parents, teachers, students and other shareholders to be in the audience.

Representatives from the music industry and consumers are going to make a presentation arguing in support or against the Boardís restricting the use of school hardware and networks for downloading and sharing MP3 files.

To prepare for this important meeting, each of you will attend a meeting of one of the constituent groups in the digital music controversy. Please maintain the integrity of your role so the simulation works. At the end of this preparation, choose one person to represent your role at the Board meeting.

The five constituent groups are

New Musicians - Online entrepreneurs

Metallica - Musicians who oppose downloading

Industry Executives from the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA)

Music Lovers Ė MP3 expert users

Attorneys - Specialists on the legality of copyright

School Board Meeting

Representatives from each group will argue for their constituents. After they present arguments, parents, students, and other audience members will query the representatives and express their own points of view.



New Musicians






Cliff Bernstein, half of the team that runs Q Prime Management, which represents the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica.



Industry executive for record labels






16 year-old music lover who spends a good bit of his time online at




Copyright Attorney



How MP3 files Work

Editorial Cartoons

The Future of Music by Ram Samudrala, 1998-12-04
        This is an interesting set of articles

MP3 Package from Web Monkey, Three Lessons: Legal and ethical issues, The music revolution, and The nuts and bolts

Overview Articles

Articles from USA Today
Fans, artists and industry: Nobody's rockin'

Money for nothing

Music world can mine Internet

The thrill is gone

Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2001, also known as the TEACH Act, would apparently cause profound changes in the law that now prohibits colleges and universities from performing audio-visual works, including videos, over the internet and other telecommunications systems without permission from the copyright holder.

MP3 + Ethics

MP3 On Campus + Ethics

Welcome to The Alliance of Ethical MP3 Professionals

RIAA + Copyright

Legality of MP3

Fair Use and Copyright

Electronic Frontier Foundation on fair use

Legal and Ethical Issues

Intellectual Property from Wikipedia

The Copyright Society of the U.S.A.

What's in the news in June, 2003?

Apple out to acquire Napster owner?

Napster's Legacy: Another Lawsuit,aid,111064,00.asp

No Rendezvous in Apples iTunes,4386,193722,00.html

Metallica sings a different tune on downloads,4386,193722,00.html

URL for the Powerpoint Cartoons