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.