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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:

References in periodicals archive ?
A Pandora's box may have been opened recently when Napster founder Shawn Fanning called on "free" music fans to descend on our nation's capital and catch the attention of legislators holding hearings on online copyright issues.
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.
Napster has developed a peer-to-peer file-sharing network -- that is, Napster servers keep directories of users' music files, which users browse and then directly trade between themselves.
They warned Napster it could be held liable for "vicarious copyright infringement".
Internet-connected devices are reinventing entertainment in the home and making it easier to enjoy it more," said Christopher Allen, Napster general manager.
95 Euros) per month, will be marketed alongside the Napster Premier service that SFR and Rhapsody launched last fall, giving French music fans two great ways to discover and enjoy music through Napster.
We have been delighted with the performance of our services in Europe and believe that having seasoned programming execs who understand their local market has been a key driver to our robust growth, so Napster will continue to focus on strong local programming in each market," said Brad Duea, president of Napster.
Record label executives say they recognize that Napster and Yahoo serve as profitable alternatives to illegal file sharing, ``but I see a certain generational divide between ownership and not having something tangible,'' said Syd Schwartz, vice president of interactive marketing at Virgin, noting that some people prefer owning a piece of music versus temporarily storing it on their hard drive a la Napster, Yahoo and others.
Napster, which at the height of its popularity commanded a cult-like following of some 60 million users, fell foul of the powerful recording industry, which targeted it as a dangerous new vehicle for copyright violation.
But if the publishers don't win that race, it may be Napster all over again.
Whatever the outcome, Napster or no Napster, the music industry (and, with broadband, soon the motion picture industry) is facing big changes in its business model.
Anyone with a Samsung television with the Internet@TV feature can access the free Napster TV widget in the Yahoo