Napster

Last updated
Napster
Napster corporate logo.svg
Developer(s) Shawn Fanning
Sean Parker
Initial releaseJune 1, 1999;20 years ago (1999-06-01)
Stable release
September 3, 2002;16 years ago (2002-09-03)
Operating system Cross-platform
Available inMultilingual
Type Media player
Website https://us.napster.com/

Napster is a set of three music-focused online services. It was founded as a pioneering peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing Internet software that emphasized sharing digital audio files, typically audio songs, encoded in MP3 format. As the software became popular, the company ran into legal difficulties over copyright infringement. It ceased operations and was eventually acquired by Roxio. In its second incarnation, Napster became an online music store until it was acquired by Rhapsody from Best Buy [1] on December 1, 2011.

Peer-to-peer file sharing is the distribution and sharing of digital media using peer-to-peer (P2P) networking technology. P2P file sharing allows users to access media files such as books, music, movies, and games using a P2P software program that searches for other connected computers on a P2P network to locate the desired content. The nodes (peers) of such networks are end-user computers and distribution servers.

Internet Global system of connected computer networks

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.

Digital audio technology that records, stores, and reproduces sound

Digital audio is sound that has been recorded in, or converted into, digital form. In digital audio, the sound wave of the audio signal is encoded as numerical samples in continuous sequence. For example, in CD audio, samples are taken 44100 times per second each with 16 bit sample depth. Digital audio is also the name for the entire technology of sound recording and reproduction using audio signals that have been encoded in digital form. Following significant advances in digital audio technology during the 1970s, it gradually replaced analog audio technology in many areas of audio engineering and telecommunications in the 1990s and 2000s.

Contents

Later, more decentralized projects followed Napster's P2P file-sharing example, such as Gnutella, Freenet, BearShare and Soulseek. Some services, like LimeWire, Scour, Kazaa, Grokster, Madster, and eDonkey2000, were also brought down or changed due to copyright issues.

Gnutella is a large peer-to-peer network. It was the first decentralized peer-to-peer network of its kind, leading to other, later networks adopting the model. It celebrated a decade of existence on March 14, 2010, and has a user base in the millions for peer-to-peer file sharing.

Freenet peer-to-peer Internet platform for censorship-resistant communication

Freenet is a peer-to-peer platform for censorship-resistant communication. It uses a decentralized distributed data store to keep and deliver information, and has a suite of free software for publishing and communicating on the Web without fear of censorship. Both Freenet and some of its associated tools were originally designed by Ian Clarke, who defined Freenet's goal as providing freedom of speech on the Internet with strong anonymity protection.

BearShare peer-to-peer file sharing application

BearShare was a peer-to-peer file sharing application originally created by Free Peers, Inc. for Microsoft Windows and also a rebranded version of iMesh by MusicLab, LLC, tightly integrated with their music subscription service.

Origin

Napster was founded by John Fanning and Shawn Fanning. [2] Initially, Napster was envisioned as an independent peer-to-peer file sharing service by Shawn Fanning. The service operated between June 1999 and July 2001. [3] Its technology allowed people to easily share their MP3 files with other participants. [4] Although the original service was shut down by court order, the Napster brand survived after the company's assets were liquidated and purchased by other companies through bankruptcy proceedings. [5]

John Fanning may refer to:

Shawn Fanning American businessman

Shawn Fanning is an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, and angel investor. He developed Napster, one of the first popular peer-to-peer ("P2P") file sharing platforms, in 1999. The popularity of Napster was widespread and Fanning was featured on the cover of Time magazine.

MP3 is a coding format for digital audio. Originally defined as the third audio format of the MPEG-1 standard, it was retained and further extended—defining additional bit-rates and support for more audio channels—as the third audio format of the subsequent MPEG-2 standard. A third version, known as MPEG 2.5—extended to better support lower bit rates—is commonly implemented, but is not a recognized standard.

History

Although there were already networks that facilitated the distribution of files across the Internet, such as IRC, Hotline, and Usenet, Napster specialized in MP3 files of music and a user-friendly interface. At its peak the Napster service had about 80 million registered users. [6] Napster made it relatively easy for music enthusiasts to download copies of songs that were otherwise difficult to obtain, such as older songs, unreleased recordings, studio recordings, and songs from concert bootleg recordings. Napster paved the way for streaming media services and transformed music into a public good for a brief period of time.

Hotline Communications

Hotline Communications Limited (HCL) was a software company founded in 1997, based in Toronto, Canada, with employees also in the United States and Australia. Hotline Communications' main activity was the publishing and distribution of a multi-purpose client/server communication software product named Hotline Connect, informally called, simply, Hotline. Initially, Hotline Communications sought a wide audience for its products, and organizations as diverse as Avid Technology, Apple Computer Australia, and public high schools used Hotline. At its peak, Hotline received millions of dollars in venture capital funding, grew to employ more than fifty people, served millions of users, and won accolades at trade shows and in newspapers and computer magazines around the world.

Usenet worldwide distributed Internet discussion system

Usenet is a worldwide distributed discussion system available on computers. It was developed from the general-purpose Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) dial-up network architecture. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979, and it was established in 1980. Users read and post messages to one or more categories, known as newsgroups. Usenet resembles a bulletin board system (BBS) in many respects and is the precursor to Internet forums that are widely used today. Discussions are threaded, as with web forums and BBSs, though posts are stored on the server sequentially. The name comes from the term "users network".

Streaming media Continuous multimedia operated and presented to users by a provider

Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider. The verb "to stream" refers to the process of delivering or obtaining media in this manner; the term refers to the delivery method of the medium, rather than the medium itself, and is an alternative to file downloading, a process in which the end-user obtains the entire file for the content before watching or listening to it.

High-speed networks in college dormitories became overloaded, with as much as 61% of external network traffic consisting of MP3 file transfers. [7] Many colleges blocked its use for this reason, [8] even before concerns about liability for facilitating copyright violations on campus.

Macintosh version

Napster running under Mac OS 9 in March 2001. Napster running on an original iBook (2001-03-11).png
Napster running under Mac OS 9 in March 2001.

The service and software program began as Windows-only. However, in 2000, Black Hole Media wrote a Macintosh client called Macster. Macster was later bought by Napster and designated the official Mac Napster client ("Napster for the Mac"), at which point the Macster name was discontinued. [9] Even before the acquisition of Macster, the Macintosh community had a variety of independently-developed Napster clients. The most notable was the open source client called MacStar, released by Squirrel Software in early 2000 and Rapster, released by Overcaster Family in Brazil. [10] The release of MacStar's source code paved the way for third-party Napster clients across all computing platforms, giving users advertisement-free music distribution options.

Heavy metal band Metallica discovered a demo of their song "I Disappear" had been circulating across the network before it was released. This led to it being played on several radio stations across the United States and alerted Metallica to the fact that their entire back catalogue of studio material was also available. On March 13, 2000, they filed a lawsuit against Napster. A month later, rapper and producer Dr. Dre, who shared a litigator and legal firm with Metallica, filed a similar lawsuit after Napster refused his written request to remove his works from its service. Separately, Metallica and Dr. Dre later delivered to Napster thousands of usernames of people who they believed were pirating their songs. In March 2001, Napster settled both suits, after being shut down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a separate lawsuit from several major record labels (see below). [11] In 2000, Madonna's single "Music" was leaked out onto the web and Napster prior to its commercial release, causing widespread media coverage. [12] Verified Napster use peaked with 26.4 million users worldwide in February 2001. [13]

In 2000, the American musical recording company A&M Records along with several other recording companies, through the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), sued Napster ( A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc. ) on grounds of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). [14] Napster was faced with the following allegations from the music industry:

  1. That its users were directly violating the accuser's copyrights.
  2. That Napster was responsible for contributory infringement of the accuser's copyrights.
  3. That Napster was responsible for vicarious infringement of the accuser's copyrights.

Napster lost the case in the District Court but then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Although it was clear that Napster could have commercially significant non-infringing uses, the Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court's decision. Immediately after, the District Court commanded Napster to keep track of the activities of its network and to restrict access to infringing material when informed of that material's location. Napster wasn't able to comply and thus had to close down its service in July 2001. In 2002, Napster announced that it was bankrupt and sold its assets to a third party. [15]

Promotional power

Napster peaked in February 2001. Napster Unique Users.svg
Napster peaked in February 2001.

Along with the accusations that Napster was hurting the sales of the record industry, there were those who felt just the opposite, that file trading on Napster stimulated, rather than hurt, sales. Some evidence may have come in July 2000 when tracks from English rock band Radiohead's album Kid A found their way to Napster three months before the album's release. Unlike Madonna, Dr. Dre or Metallica, Radiohead had never hit the top 20 in the US. Furthermore, Kid A was an album without any singles released, and received relatively little radio airplay. By the time of the album's release, the album was estimated to have been downloaded for free by millions of people worldwide, and in October 2000 Kid A captured the number one spot on the Billboard 200 sales chart in its debut week. According to Richard Menta of MP3 Newswire, [16] the effect of Napster in this instance was isolated from other elements that could be credited for driving sales, and the album's unexpected success suggested that Napster was a good promotional tool for music.

Since 2000, many musical artists, particularly those not signed to major labels and without access to traditional mass media outlets such as radio and television, have said that Napster and successive Internet file-sharing networks have helped get their music heard, spread word of mouth, and may have improved their sales in the long term[ citation needed ]. One such musician to publicly defend Napster as a promotional tool for independent artists was Dj Xealot, who became directly involved in the 2000 A&M Records Lawsuit. [17] Chuck D from Public Enemy also came out and publicly supported Napster. [18]

Lawsuit

Napster's facilitation of transfer of copyrighted material raised the ire of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which almost immediately—on December 7, 1999—filed a lawsuit against the popular service. [19] The service would only get bigger as the trial, meant to shut down Napster, also gave it a great deal of publicity. Soon millions of users, many of whom were college students, flocked to it. After a failed appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court, an injunction was issued on March 5, 2001 ordering Napster to prevent the trading of copyrighted music on its network. [20]

Lawrence Lessig [21] claimed, however, that this decision made little sense from the perspective of copyright protection: "When Napster told the district court that it had developed a technology to block the transfer of 99.4 percent of identified infringing material, the district court told counsel for Napster 99.4 percent was not good enough. Napster had to push the infringements 'down to zero.' If 99.4 percent is not good enough," Lessig concluded, "then this is a war on file-sharing technologies, not a war on copyright infringement."

Shutdown

On July 11, 2001, Napster shut down its entire network in order to comply with the injunction. On September 24, 2001, the case was partially settled. Napster agreed to pay music creators and copyright owners a $26 million settlement for past, unauthorized uses of music, and as an advance against future licensing royalties of $10 million. In order to pay those fees Napster attempted to convert its free service into a subscription system, and thus traffic to Napster was reduced. A prototype solution was tested in 2002: the Napster 3.0 Alpha, using the ".nap" secure file format from PlayMedia Systems [22] and audio fingerprinting technology licensed from Relatable. Napster 3.0 was, according to many former Napster employees, ready to deploy, but it had significant trouble obtaining licenses to distribute major-label music. On May 17, 2002, Napster announced that its assets would be acquired by German media firm Bertelsmann for $85 million with the goal of transforming Napster into an online music subscription service. The two companies had been collaborating since the middle of 2000 [23] where Bertelsmann became the first major label to drop its copyright lawsuit against Napster. [24] Pursuant to the terms of the acquisition agreement, on June 3 Napster filed for Chapter 11 protection under United States bankruptcy laws. On September 3, 2002, an American bankruptcy judge blocked the sale to Bertelsmann and forced Napster to liquidate its assets. [25]

Reuse of name

Napster's brand and logos were acquired at bankruptcy auction by Roxio which used them to re-brand the Pressplay music service as Napster 2.0. In September 2008, Napster was purchased by US electronics retailer Best Buy for US $121 million. [26] On December 1, 2011, pursuant to a deal with Best Buy, Napster merged with Rhapsody, with Best Buy receiving a minority stake in Rhapsody. [27] On July 14, 2016, Rhapsody phased out the Rhapsody brand in favor of Napster and has since branded its service internationally as Napster [28] and expand toward other markets by providing music on-demand as a service to other brands [29] like the iHeartRadio app and their All Access music subscription service that provides subscribers with an on-demand music experience as well as premium radio. [30]

Media

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Kazaa peer-to-peer file sharing application

Kazaa Media Desktop started as a peer-to-peer file sharing application using the FastTrack protocol licensed by Joltid Ltd. and operated as Kazaa by Sharman Networks. Kazaa was subsequently under license as a legal music subscription service by Atrinsic, Inc. According to one of its creators, Jaan Tallinn, Kazaa is pronounced ka-ZAH.

Online music store business selling music on the internet

An online music store is an online business which sells audio files over the Internet, usually sound recordings of music songs or classical pieces, in which the user pays on a per-song or subscription basis. It may be differentiated from music streaming services in that the online music store sells the purchaser the actual digital music file, while streaming services offer the patron partial or full listening without the actually owning the source file. However, online music stores generally offer partial streaming previews of songs, with some songs even available for full length listening. Online music stores typically show a picture of the album art or of the performer or band for each song. Some online music stores also sell recorded speech files, such as podcasts and video files of movies.

MP3.com

MP3.com is a web site operated by CNET Networks providing information about digital music and artists, songs, services, community, and technologies. It is better known for its original incarnation, as a legal, free music-sharing service, popular with independent musicians for promoting their work. It was named after the popular music file format, MP3. It was shut down on December 2, 2003 by CNET, which, after purchasing the domain name, established the current MP3.com site.

ARTISTdirect is an online digital media entertainment company. Founded in 1994, it owns several websites, including artistdirect.com and artistdirectinterviews.com. These websites are a group of affiliate websites offering multimedia content, music news and information, communities organized around shared music interests, music-related specialty commerce and digital music services.

Madster appeared in Napster's wake in August 2000 and was intended to be a P2P file sharing service. It was shut down in December 2002 as a result of a lawsuit by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Napster was an online music store and a Rhapsody company, branded under the purchased name and trademarks of former free file sharing service Napster.

MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 545 U.S. 913 (2005), is a United States Supreme Court decision in which the Court unanimously held that defendant peer-to-peer file sharing companies Grokster and Streamcast could be sued for inducing copyright infringement for acts taken in the course of marketing file sharing software. The plaintiffs were a consortium of 28 of the largest entertainment companies.

<i>A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc.</i>

A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc., 239 F.3d 1004 (2001) was a landmark intellectual property case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the ruling of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, holding that defendant, peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing service Napster, could be held liable for contributory infringement and vicarious infringement of the plaintiffs' copyrights. This was the first major case to address the application of copyright laws to peer-to-peer file-sharing.

This is a timeline of events in the history of networked file sharing.

SNOCAP

SNOCAP was founded by Shawn Fanning, Jordan Mendelson, and Ron Conway. Other SNOCAP employees included music lawyer Christian Castle, the company's first General Counsel, and Ali Aydar, the company's Chief Operating Officer, who joined imeem after its acquisition of SNOCAP in April 2008.

Arts and media industry trade groups, such as the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), strongly oppose and attempt to prevent copyright infringement through file sharing. The organizations particularly target the distribution of files via the Internet using peer-to-peer software. Efforts by trade groups to curb such infringement have been unsuccessful with chronic, widespread and rampant infringement continuing largely unabated.

File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digital media, such as computer programs, multimedia, documents or electronic books. It involves various legal aspects as it is often used to exchange intellectual property that is subject to copyright law or licensing.

Audiogalaxy

Audiogalaxy was an Internet music service with three incarnations. From 1998 to 2002, it was a file sharing system that indexed MP3 files. From mid-2002 to mid-2010, it was a promotional website for the Rhapsody music subscription service. Finally, from mid-2010 through 2012, it was a personal audio place shifting service. Audiogalaxy ceased operations on January 31, 2013.

File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digital media, such as computer programs, multimedia, documents or electronic books. File sharing may be achieved in a number of ways. Common methods of storage, transmission and dispersion include manual sharing utilizing removable media, centralized servers on computer networks, World Wide Web-based hyperlinked documents, and the use of distributed peer-to-peer networking.

In the first decade of the 21st century, the rise of computers as the primary means to record, distribute, store, and play music caused widespread economic changes in the music industry, fundamentally changing the relationships between artists, record companies, promoters, retail music stores, the technology industry, and consumers. The rise of digital music consumption options contributed to a few fundamental changes in consumption. First the decline of album sales. With the A la carte sales models increasing in popularity, consumers no longer download entire albums but rather choose single songs.

Music piracy is the copying and distributing of recordings of a piece of music for which the rights owners did not give consent. In the contemporary legal environment, it is a form of copyright infringement, which may be either a civil wrong or a crime depending on jurisdiction. The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw much controversy over the ethics of redistributing media content, how much production and distribution companies in the media were losing, and the very scope of what ought to be considered piracy — and cases involving the piracy of music were among the most frequently discussed in the debate.

<i>Metallica v. Napster, Inc.</i>

Metallica, et al. v. Napster, Inc. was a 2000 U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case that focused on copyright infringement, racketeering, and unlawful use of digital audio interface devices. Metallica vs. Napster, Inc. was the first case that involved an artist suing a peer-to-peer file sharing ("P2P") software company.

Contributory copyright infringement is a way of imposing secondary liability for infringement of a copyright. It is a means by which a person may be held liable for copyright infringement even though he or she did not directly engage in the infringing activity. In the United States, the Copyright Act does not itself impose liability for contributory infringement expressly. It is one of the two forms of secondary liability apart from 'vicarious liability'. Contributory infringement is understood to be a form of infringement in which a person is not directly violating a copyright but, induces or authorises another person to directly infringe the copyright.

References

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