Fans like to say file sharing can't be stopped and there's no getting the genie back into the bottle. Regardless of whether that's true, there's no question about who yanked the cork.
The original Napster, founded by Shawn Fanning (at left), demonstrated the vast power that the Internet gave to everyday people. With the Internet, they could distribute digital content to the masses worldwide. Napster also offered a glimpse into how hard it would be to control that power. The music industry has been in a state of decline ever since Napster emerged in 1999 and will unlikely be the same ever again.
Napster operated with a centralized system but the company would set the stage for decentralized peer-to-peer services. Fanning can be described as the father of BitTorrent, The Pirate Bay, LimeWire, TorrentSpy, Isohunt, and oodles of other file-sharing services. One can argue that without Napster, the digital music revolution may have taken a much longer time to kick in.
Napster wasn't around for very long. The record labels sued for copyright infringement. In 2001, a federal court found Napster liable and ordered the company to stop enabling the sharing of copyrighted songs. In 2002, the company filed for bankruptcy. Its assets, including the company name, were sold off.
Its legacy lives on.
May 27, 2011 4:00 AM PDT
Photo by: CBS/60 Minutes
| Caption by: Greg Sandoval
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