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Legal Issues Of The Napster Website

1104 words - 5 pages

Napster, an idea from the head of a teenager redefined the Internet and the music industry forever. The Napster website concept is simple: its creator hoped to design a "program that allows computer users to swap MP3s with one another directly (aka Peer to Peer File Sharing), without going through a middleman. Napster had achieved a tremendous level of success, but it once was a controversial service that spurred what is still one of the greatest Internet-related debates: Just because we can get the music we want without paying for it, should we?, although it is technically a file sharing program that has a central server. However, this simple idea has caused one of the biggest Internet revolutions in history, growing in popularity. It has also caused retaliation from the Recording Industry Association of America, which has unleashed its anger in the form of many lawsuits against Napster for copyright infringement. Napster has also divided musicians and the music industry like no other issue in recent memory. In this essay I will speak about MP3, peer to peer file sharing, legal troubles, where Napster is now, and a conclusion of this all. (Hart)
First MP3 crazes were fueled by sites like On these sites, anyone may upload a song. The songs are then stored on a server that is part of the website. After other users can connect to the site and download songs that have been uploaded. Another way of obtaining MP3 files is to perform a search on the title or artist that you are looking for. The search would return a lot of links that were broken, meaning that the page could not be found. In early 1999, Shawn Fanning began to develop an ideas to better this market of finding MP3s. He thought that there should be a way to create a program that combined three key functions into one website. These functions are a search engine for MP3s, file sharing from peer to peer, and internet relay chat between MP3 users. Fanning spent several months writing code that would become Napster (Tyson). He uploaded the original beta version to, where it quickly became one of the most downloaded item on the site. He soon realized he had made a success. Many colleges banned Napster in its illegal state. But ironically Napster’s audience mostly contained college level students. College students are usually very low on funds, they usually tend to enjoy music, and they at this time in the past, should be very familiar with the use of MP3s and MP3 players. All these things make Napster very appealing to the college student. (Tyson)
One of the things Napster was specifically made to do was share MP3s between clients without a middleman. (Tyson) And now instead of storing these MP3 files they were stored on the user’s personal machine. In order to use the old Napster the client needed a copy of the Napster utility installed on your computer, a directory on your computer so that remote users may access it, and some type of internet access. The provider of the...

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