Once boasting millions of registered users, Napster Inc. was one of the hottest network software applications in history because it allowed its members to exchange music files over the Internet for free. Napster Inc. implemented a quite simple IP-based protocol for communicating information as well as control operations, and it used a custom-name space that was in some ways similar to but in other ways sufficiently different from DNS.
Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker developed Napster Inc. in their Northeastern University dormitory room, and they must have been pleased to see that their vision became a huge success in the late 1990s. However, Napster’s success was rather short lived.
Because the network traffic generated by Napster downloads flooded some university networks, a few institutions prevented it from entering their networks by blocking ports. Challenges brought about by DMCA—costing millions of dollars to the music industry—eventually put the original Napster Inc. out of business. The original Napster Inc. helped, however, to popularize peer-to-peer (P2P) network computing.
Because of its popularity, Napster was reestablished in 2004 as a commercial music-download service through which users pay for downloaded songs. This made the service compatible with the particulars of the DMCA. Working with some of the original Napster Inc.’s employees and investors, Shawn Fanning, now in his mid-twenties, formed Snocap, Inc. The new company has a registry that allows recording companies to set the pricing terms under which their music can be sold to online consumers.
See Also: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA); Domain Name System (DNS); Flooding; Internet Protocol (IP); Online File Sharing; Peer-to-Peer (P2P); Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) Legal Cases.
About, Inc. Napster. [Online, 2004.] About, Inc. Website. http://compnetworking.about.com/cs/napsterp2p/g/bldef_napster.htm; Wingfield, N. Napster’s Fanning Back in Business. The Globe and Mail, December 3, 2004, p. B10.
An online music service that merged into Rhapsody in 2011. 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 (www.roxio.com), 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: