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An online music service that merged with Rhapsody in 2011 and was rebranded as Napster in 2016. Starting out as a (non-centralized) peer-to-peer service, Napster was one of the most notorious names in the early years of the commercial Internet.

The Infamous Napster
With the help of his uncle and friends, Napster was founded in 1999 as a peer-to-peer music file sharing service by 18-year-old Shawn Fanning. Napster did not store the music itself in its servers, but provided an index to files in other people's computers. More than 60 million users took advantage of the service, and it quickly became one of the most controversial ventures on the Web, because much of the music being shared was copyrighted material.

The music industry sued the company, claiming losses of millions in royalties. Napster lost the case in 2000 and was about to be shut down, except for a last minute stay from the Circuit Court of Appeals. Subsequently, Napster and Bertelsmann, parent of BMG music, agreed to partner so that Napster could be developed into a paid subscription service that would monitor transfers and pay royalties to the copyright holders. Because Napster could not reach agreement with major record companies, it filed for Chapter 11 in 2002.

Resurrected and Legitimate
Although expected to be purchased by Bertelsmann, Napster's assets were instead acquired by Roxio, Inc., Santa Clara, CA (, which makes software for burning CDs. In 2003, Roxio also acquired Pressplay, a music distribution service that was established in 2000 by Sony and UMG. In 2003, Napster was relaunched as a legitimate service with royalties paid to the major music companies. Acquired by Best Buy in 2008, the Napster subscriber base was sold to Rhapsody in 2011 (see Rhapsody). See peer-to-peer network, KaZaA and BitTorrent.

File swapping systems have been architected in different ways as outlined in the following illustrations:

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