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Music Piracy Software The Internet Technology

Napster: the Day the Music Was Set Free 243

theodp writes "Before iTunes, Netflix, MySpace, Facebook, and the Kindle, 17-year-old Shawn Fanning and 18-year-old Sean Parker gave the world Napster. And it was very good. The Observer's Tom Lamont reports on VH1's soon-to-premiere Downloaded, a documentary that tells the story of the rise and fall of the file-sharing software that started the digital music revolution, and shares remembrances of how Napster rocked his world. 'I was 17,' writes Lamont, 'and the owner of an irregular music collection that numbered about 20 albums, most of them a real shame (OMC's How Bizarre, the Grease 2 soundtrack). One day I had unsupervised access to the family PC and, for reasons forgotten, an urge to hear the campy orchestral number from the film Austin Powers. I was a model Napster user: internet-equipped, impatient and mostly ignorant of the ethical and legal particulars of peer-to-peer file-sharing. I installed the software, searched Napster's vast list of MP3 files, and soon had Soul Bossa Nova plinking kilobyte by kilobyte on to my hard drive.' Sound familiar?"
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Napster: the Day the Music Was Set Free

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  • by timmyf2371 ( 586051 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @04:13PM (#42996917)
    I used to use Napster and subsequently Audiogalaxy back over 28.8k dial-up and it took around 20 minutes to download an MP3 (always at 128Kbps bitrate). These days, I can get a 1080p Blu-Ray rip in that same 20 minutes. It was always a joy seeing a new track had been completed.

    The thing I loved about Napster was that there was loads of cover songs and live performances on there and it was so easy to use.

    Then when it all came tumbling down thanks to Metallica et al, seeing all the replacements pop up all over the place. Kazaa, Limewire etc all full of viruses and dodgy bitrate files.

    These days, it's not worth the hassle to go pirate music anymore so I just pay for Spotify Premium. It is probably closest in functionality to Napster and has a great selection of mainstream and random tracks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 24, 2013 @04:51PM (#42997177)

    What I liked best about the early Napster is that collectors shared a trove of unreleased and rare material. Demos, live cuts, b-sides, non-album tracks - almost anything I could think of, I'd type it in and download it. I got digital versions of stuff that would have taken me man-years to digitize from the originals I had (LPs, cassettes, etc), and stuff that would have cost bazillions to buy from dealers. Remember, back then in the late 90s, the current practice of adding rare tracks like b-sides to CD releases of LP records (which were usually about 40 minutes long, giving plenty of room for extra tracks on the CD) was just beginning, so a lot of this material was very, very rare. As Napster got more popular, all this stuff faded away quickly to be replaced by stuff you could buy in stores on CD. I've always thought that was one of the greatest tragedies of file sharing.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @05:17PM (#42997355)

    Back in the day, you could just fire up a portscanner looking for netbios shares and gain trivial access to C drive on many computers. I used to do that quite often - then find the desktop folder and leave a text file there explaining the security flaw and urging the user to fix it.

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @06:31PM (#42997897) Homepage
    I think Load was when Metallica went over the edge and I'm sure they do sell out but they're way too pop and shit since that. They didn't handle their black album success well. The napster thing was lame I guess but i don't blame them. I just don't listen to their music because it's poor now.
  • Re:IF..... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fulminata ( 999320 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @08:14PM (#42998631)
    The one time I don't have mod points...

    This was similar to my experience. I bought about an album a month before Napster, while Napster was around I bought at least an album a week, and after it went away I dropped back to about two albums a year. I'm now back to buying the equivalent of about an album every other month through iTunes.

    So, a decade later and I'm still spending a lot less money with them than I was when Napster was around. Multiply that by everyone else who acted in similar ways, and it's not so hard to determine the real reason for their declining income.
  • by nametaken ( 610866 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @08:42PM (#42998801)

    That version of the analogy doesn't really work either since a stolen widget is a stolen widget, where content piracy doesn't directly deprive anyone of anything material, or correlate predictably with lost sales.

    But anyway, my point wasn't that content piracy is the new model. It's that piracy will force them to evolve. There will be money involved, just as there is with music now. Piracy is just a big ass lever that can help move industries.

    If I had to guess, it would be that we'll head towards the Netflix model. Not specifically their core content now (older stuff), but what they're trying to do with programming like House of Cards. The Hulu model is a dead-end, in my opinion. It's some tiny fraction of TV content, with many of the downsides we hate in the traditional system, only made worse.

    On the details I can only guess, though. On the fact that the existing model is totally untenable in the face of what's coming, I'm dead certain.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 24, 2013 @08:53PM (#42998869)

    We're a household of downloaders. We do it primarily for reasons of convenience these days, so that we can watch what we want to watch when we are in the mood to watch it, and not when some TV station scheduler thinks we might want to watch it.

    To support the producers of the shows we like, we tend to buy them on DVD once they become available locally, or import them if the local (Australian) TV content licencers have their heads up their arse about buying the shows we watch.

    We see this as a win-win. We watch the shows when we want without adverts, and the content producers get money to indicate what shows we enjoy to encourage them to make more of that kind of content. Unfortunately the delay in the second part of the chain is sometimes too long for that specific show to benefit (DVD's are often not released in Australia until a year or more after the shows have aired in the US or UK), but it's better than nothing. We're not a ratings box household, so they get more feedback on our viewing habits than if we watched it during it's scheduled broadcast time.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351