Tag Archives: Napster

You might like… ‘Napster – 15 Years Later’

If you’ve got an interest in either a) piracy or b) digital music streaming then you might want to come along to a guest research seminar hosted by the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies (CRMCS) on Monday November 17th at 5:30pm.

The session is entitled ‘Napster – 15 Years Late’ by Matthew David from the University of Durham. He published a very interesting book on the filesharing and the music industry a few years back.

Here’s the description for the research seminar:

Napster offered the first ‘easy to use’ format for sharing music online.

It was not the first online music sharing software, but it was the one that generated a mass user base into the tens of millions. In this respect Napster launched file-sharing into ‘popular culture’. Napster, like other services, such as Facebook, which emerged at the same time, used a central server model through which files were shared. As such, Napster was not a fully peer-to-peer service. This central server model was useful for streaming advertising, but was legally problematic for Napster. It left the service open to legal challenge on grounds of contributory infringement, something for which it was found guilty in 2001, and which led to its original service closing in that year (and for the original company’s bankruptcy in 2002).

It was precisely the combination of these two things, the legal liability associated with having a bottleneck within a copyright infringing software’s architecture, and the creation of a popular expectation of ‘free music’ online that represents dual Napster’s legacy. The cat and mouse development of technical strategies to evade legal liability, and the ongoing expansion of a popular expectation that recorded music should be freely available online has ‘revolutionized’: A. Free file-sharing; and B. The commercial recording industry. The current field of recorded music, which combines these copyright infringing and copyright compliant modes of distribution, represents a diverse assemblage of affordances, all of which flow from and engage with reinventing the technical and cultural space that Napster, in large measure, brought into popular consciousness.

The seminar tends to last about 50-60 mins before questions. It’s open to the public so feel free to attend. It’s in the Media Centre in room MC233.

For further information contact Clarissa Smith

T: 0191 515 2708

E: clarissa.smith@sunderland.ac.uk