Napster – Review

Napster – Review

Napster characterized by the legendary “ Alien With Headphones” logo and which was originally created by 19-year-old college student named Shawn Fanning and his friend Sean Parker has gone a long way.

Napster, once a free file-sharing network which was founded in June 1999 and was incorporated in 2000, was a favorite tool for downloading music files among college students earlier in the decade.

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It came about when Fanning saw a need on the Internet for a space where people could search and share files, bypassing the established market for such songs.

The new program enabled music fans to swap songs stored on their computers with each other and to find each other through a central directory.

It was named Napster after the “ nappy’ hairstyle sported by Shawn during those days. Though peer-to-peer file sharing was nothing new, Napster was the first site to use that kind of system in a specialized form.

They focused in facilitating the peer-to-peer file sharing of music MP3 files in a fun and user-friendly interface. What most people didn’t realize however was that Napster was never a fully functioning peer-to-peer file sharing system.

Instead, it maintained its own central servers that contained lists of all the connected system and files that were being transmitted between millions of different computers.

In other words, Napster was merely a holder of a huge directory. The service gained popularity so fast because of the million of College students who used it.

They used the site to browse for music files , upload their own files, and swap music files with other users by uploading and downloading. Some of the music fans even regarded Napster as a kind of music search engine.

Because of this, major media empires like Universal, Sony and BMG under the Recording Industry Association of America ( RIAA) along with two of the most influential artists back then, Dr. Dre and Metallica filed a suit against Napster for copyright infringement.

They were accused of tributary right infringement which means that it was being accused not of violating copyright itself but of contributing to and facilitating other people’s infringement.

Napster argued that because the actual files were never in Napster’s possession, but transferred from user to user, then Napster was not acting illegally.

They further argued that in the issue of P2P applications (Peer to Peer), 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.

On March 2001, after a protracted legal battle, RIAA won a temporary injunction which prohibited Napster from trading copy righted music over the network.

A few months later, Napster finally agreed to pay legal settlements because of its failure to overturn the court decision. Because of this turn of events, and in order to pay for the legal settlement and royalties, Napster changed its business model and instead of offering free service, it converted to a subscription system.

Napster filed for bankruptcy to protect itself from creditors and it was bought by a company named Roxio which also bought another online music service.

Roxio used these newly acquired assets as the basis of a new legal online music service which would let users access music through a subscription or on a fee-per-song basis and thus giving the record companies and the artists/composers (or their estates) the royalties they had been asking for.

In June 2004, (six)6 months after iTunes’ launching, Napster which has been renamed as Napster Inc. was also re-launched. It introduced the Napster to Go in 2005, the world’s first digital music portable subscription service.

It offered a browser-based service and free accounts that let users stream almost any track in the Napster catalog, and these free accounts work on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers.

In 2008, it was acquired by Best Buy and along with it acquired its s 700,000 monthly subscribers. Today, though not a free P2P sharing site anymore, it still enjoys so much popularity.

It is actually the second legal music download service to gain widespread popularity after iTunes. It offers superb music streaming and direct downloading of all our favorite artists.

I especially like its clean, user-friendly interface which is also perfect for novice users. It now also offers a bonus feature called Napster Live which provides subscribers with exclusive access to special studio performances by their favorite artists and access to an array of radio stations.

Indeed, Napster has come a long ways from the days of old, isn’t time for you to give it a try?

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