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Related to Napster: LimeWire, Kazaa


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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References in periodicals archive ?
Napster boss Konrad Hilbers said: "This can only mean liquidation for the entire company.
Napster would have been so much stronger if it had never been a business, if its developers had made a true P2P architecture which dispensed with central servers - if it simply hadn't got itself quite so involved.
Even while they were in court, the music moguls were telling Napster to get it right.
"The time the Napster litigation bought the labels has run out and the grim reality is that Napster's audience is beginning to be fragmented across many services, which will be very difficult, if not impossible, to litigate against in the same way," said Mark Mooradian, vice president and senior analyst, Jupiter Media Metrix.
Many other organizations, whether by design or by accident, have been caught up in the arguments and even the court cases that have resulted from the widespread use of Napster and other similar Internet programs and services.
The three-judge panel ruled unanimously that Napster users who download files containing copyrighted music violate the record industry's exclusive right to reproduce those musical works.
The music industry (by which we mean the five companies that supply about 90 percent of the world's popular music) is dying not because of Napster but because of an underlying economic truth.
The ruling is a huge victory for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for the record companies it represents, and for many artists (Metallica most vocally) who claimed that Napster pirates their music and prevents them from earning royalties.
Perhaps it's a sign of the times that Smart Business magazine chose as its "Innovation of the Year" Napster, the problematic software for sharing music online.
Putting it another way, if you're watching television and see an advertisement for a new cd you like, there is a good chance you could download the songs from Napster instead of buying the album if you chose to do so.