Napster was a music sharing network, which was founded by Shawn Fanning, John Fanning and Sean Parker, and went online in 1999. It should serve the purpose of being able to spread more easily MP3 music files over the Internet.


Used technique

Revolutionary was going to be peer-to- peer approach (P2P ). The Napster software searched the computer on which it was installed, for MP3 files and reported the results to a central server on the Internet, where the offers and searches of other participants received. The server was back as a result of a request, the IP addresses of the computers that offered the desired music file. The two clients could then directly to each other ( peer -to-peer ) and copy the piece of music. A multiple loading of multiple sources as it was later introduced in other music exchanges, was not possible with the official client.

Napster and the community

From time to time was the fastest growing community (community) of the Internet Napster. This can be explained by the cost of freedom of the system and the attractive content. Shortly before her death in February 2001, included the Napster community about 80 million users worldwide, including 1.6 million users were online all the time; alone in January 2001, the exchange volume was around two billion files.

Legal action and shutdown

As disastrous for Napster proved to be the server-client system that was dependent on central computer for further mediation of the search queries. This allowed the rightholder of the music industry and the RIAA ( Recording Industry Association of America ) Napster overlay them with lawsuits and require the dismantling of the server. After Napster was forced to install filtering software, but that never really worked, because the user could imaginatively deal with file rename the filter ( Metallica EtallicaM or acillatem etc.). Previously, Bertelsmann had bought in a then sensational coup at Napster, first as a loan with the option to be able to later convert the loan into a share. At the end of Napster was shut down in the original form, however.


During the quarrels between Napster and the music industry several alternative P2P programs came on, for example, various programs (such as LimeWire ) based on the Gnutella network. What is new about them was that no central computer for further mediation of the searches were necessary. The once popular, similar in structure and appearance Napster FastTrack network (eg Kazaa ), however, was faced with similar legal problems as it did Napster, which also reflects a rapid depletion of users was associated. Furthermore popular are the EDonkey2000 network (eg, eMule ) and the BitTorrent network (eg Vuze ).

In February 2003, several American composers and record companies action against the Bertelsmann publishing charged with the accusation by buying Napster's support and allows the dissemination of black copies and have caused great economic damage.

Technology used today

Thanks to several alternative server implementations, the original Napster protocol is used even today. The ( historically ) important server is OpenNap. By publication of this protocol allowed only that several (mostly open source ) clients have been implemented. However, the implementation of today 's most widely used is SlavaNap.


In the film The Italian Job - hunting on millions of character Lyle, the inventor of Napster claims to be. His former roommate Shawn Fanning is said to have stolen the disk containing the software. For the filming of a flashback Shawn Fanning was even a cameo appearance are available. In addition, Napster is mentioned in the film The Social Network ( 2010), Justin Timberlake plays Napster founder Sean Parker.