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Where Commerce, Culture and the First Amendment Collide
Questions on Ethics in Software Engineering Raised by the Napster Case

Term Paper for the Software Science (CS 346) class at The University of Montana - Missoula, submitted October 20, 2000.

This paper describes the development of the Napster real-time music search engine, a centralized directory that facilitates peer-to-peer sharing of digital audio files. The discussion focuses on the legal and ethical questions raised in the Napster vs. RIAA lawsuit, namely if noncommercial file sharing constitutes a copyright infringement, if Napster can be held responsible for infringements performed by its users, and which actions the company can and must take against offending users. The paper also discusses First Amendment implications and the impact Napster has on the emerging online entertainment market, as well as on the content providing industry as a whole.

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