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"Napster: It is the future, in my opinion. That's the way music is going to be communicated around the world. The most important thing now is to embrace it, and that was the spirit by which we did this co-promotion."
-- Dave Matthews (Dave Matthews Band)
Napster: Then and Now
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In 1999, an 18-year-old college dropout named Shawn Fanning changed the music industry forever with his file-sharing program called Napster. Shawn Fanning, co-founder of Napster His idea was simple: a program that allowed computer users to share and swap files, specifically music, through a centralized file server. His response to the complaints of the difficulty to finding and downloading music over the Net was to stay awake 60 straight hours writing the source code for a program that combined a music-search function with a file-sharing system and, to facilitate communication, instant messaging. Now we have Napster, and people are pissed.
Check out Time magazine's Interview with Shawn Fanning
The Recording Industry Association of America has filed suit against Napster charging them with tributary copyright infringement,RIAA logo which means Napster is being accused not of violating copyright itself but of contributing to and facilitating other people's infringement. However, Napster argues that because the actual files are never in Napster's posession, but transferred from user to user, that Napster is not acting illegally. The issue in P2P applications (Peer to Peer) is that if Napster is guilty of copyright infringement, then the consumers of Napster are guilty too. Likewise, if the consumer are not guilty, then how can Napster be held responsible.
For a different perspective, check out RIAA's website
Now this tiny company of 50 employees in Redwood City, California is up against media empires like Universal, Sony and BMG,Dr. Dre plus influential artists Dr. Dre and Metallica. The court battles continue and Napster's future hangs in the balance. Yet somehow, regardless of the outcome in the courtroom, Napster has opened a proverbial window of possibility on the Internet and more companies will spring up over time.
Read Napster CEO Hank Barry's statement before the Senate.