6 Mar: Shutting Down Napster

Pioneering music-sharing platform Napster faced a pivotal legal showdown on March 6th, 2001, when – despite the company’s defence that it was merely a tool for innocent purposes – US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered the removal of all copyrighted material from the service.

Napster’s legal troubles had begun with lawsuits from prominent artists like Metallica and Dr. Dre, but it was the Recording Industry Association of America’s $20 billion lawsuit that spelled the endgame for the platform. Yet the swift rise and fall of the peer-to-peer software marked a paradigm shift in how music was consumed, challenging traditional notions of ownership and distribution. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly reveal how its youthful inventors Shawn Fanning and Shaun Parker first met; explore how its legacy lives on in the likes of Spotify; and consider how the legal precedent set by Betamax, of all things, became the technology’s downfall…

Further Reading:

‘Napster Documentary: Culture of Free’ (The New York Times, 2014):