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The IT Law Wiki
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Overview[]

First introduced circa 1999, the original Napster operated using a centralized directory, or index of files available for sharing. The directory was located on a centralized server (or set of servers), to which various individual user computers — or “peers” — could connect via the Internet. An individual user could download the Napster software, connect to the server, and then send a query for a particular file she wanted to obtain — such as a song title. The server would respond with information indicating which other peers had the file.[1] The user who made the query could then request a copy of that file directly from the other peer, which would respond by providing the file itself.

Litigation[]

The original Napster ceased operations shortly after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's decision in A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc.[2] In that case, the district court issued a preliminary injunction on the grounds that the plaintiffs were likely to be able to establish Napster's liability for contributory (i.e., secondary) copyright infringement.[3] The district court's decision was based largely on the fact that Napster utilized a central server on which it maintained the index of files available for sharing.[4]

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed[5] in late 2003.

Subsequent developments[]

Napster was re-launched as a fee-based music download service in 2003.[6]

References[]

  1. The information would include the Internet Protocol ("IP") address of that peer.
  2. 239 F.3d 1004 (9th Cir. 2001) (full-text).
  3. Id. at 1020.
  4. Id.
  5. Id.
  6. See Press Release, “Napster’s Back” (Oct. 29, 2003) (full-text)
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