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Napster was founded by John Fanning and his 18-year-old nephew, Shawn Fanning. The technology behind Napster was developed in May 1999 by college student Fanning and his friend Sean Parker. Napster allows computer users to share MP3 files through the Internet. People can now download the program for free, and get MP3 files for free. Napster currently employs over 800 full time staff running from many different offices around America.
Napster was sued first by the RIAA and then by the heavy metal group Metallica. It is currently facing lawsuits from five major record labels, all over the subject of copyright infringement. Each time there are rumours about its demise, it seems more users than ever flock to the site.
Napster is new kind of software that combines chat features and a music player to let users share their MP3 libraries with each other. Its software aims to make finding MP3 files easier on the Internet. No files are actually hosted on Napster servers as Napster provides access to music files on other user's computers. In addition to its search features, Napster contains three major components:
A chat program to enable users to chat with each other in forums based on music genre.
An audio player to play MP3 files from inside Napster, in the event that users do not have an external player or prefers not to use one.
A tracking program to allow users to keep track of their favourite MP3 libraries for later browsing.
Napster itself does not transfer material among its millions of users. Instead, it provides registered users - 51 million of them, the company says, with software they can download from the Web. The software allows people to use the Napster system as a central directory to find one another and the music they've made available for copying. Napster itself possesses no copy of the music. In order to find a piece of music, users merely type the name of a song or musician into a special search engine and the Napster service responds with a list identifying where the file is located. Click on any file listed and a digital copy of the song, usually recorded as an MP3 file, is transferred over the Internet to the user's computer. The song can then be played from the computer or re-copied onto a blank CD.
Napster takes the hassle out of searching for MP3s in that there are no more broken links, no more slow downloads and no more busy, disorganised FTP sites. It allows users to locate and download music in MP3 format from a convenient and easy-to-use interface.
Napster provides a virtual community of MP3 fans as each Napster user shares their MP3 collection with everyone else who is running Napster. This, in turn, ensures that there is then a vast collection of MP3s for download. All Napster results are verified to allow the user to find the fastest server, and all searches are in real time, so the list of available songs you receive is consistently reliable. This service seemed to be the solution to everybody's problems with finding music they liked for their computer, without having to pay for whole CD's, but it seems not everyone shares the general public's enthusiasm.
In early 2000 the Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA, joined five other major record labels by announcing that it would take legal action against the Napster company for copy
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