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Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Nulled Napster
Napster will be remembered for what it started, but people are looking elsewhere to download MP3s
By Jeff Dennis
Skiff Staff

Napster hasn’t been useful for obtaining MP3s for some time now, and Internet users aren’t sitting around hoping for its miraculous return. Instead, they’ve moved on to other Inernet-based programs to obtain their tunes.

Created in the late 1990s to trade compressed music files known as MP3s, Napster was hailed as the biggest innovation since compact discs as it pushed MP3s into the forefront of the music technology scene. But the succes was brief, as record companies were quick to file lawsuit against the company because it allowed users to obtain copyrighted music for free. Napster was forced to overhaul its system to comply with the record companies’ complaints.

The company hopes to introduce a new membership-based service where users would pay a fee to trade music, but the prospective release of this new software leaves many students thinking — thinking they couldn’t care less.

Students now use a variety of free software programs to obtain MP3s: Bearshare (, Audiogalaxy ( and Morpheus (

These free programs work on a decentralized system, cutting out the large central server on which Napster relied. The new programs link users to one other for file trading.

Sherrill Jackson, a sophomore pre-major, said she probably wouldn’t have any interest in subscribing to Napster if it set up a membership service.

“I can find basically (all the MP3s) I need on Audiogalaxy,” Jackson said. “I personally find it easier to use than Napster, and it’s just as fast.”

Jay Hurst, a senior psychology major, says Napster will always be remembered for what it started, but there are better ways of obtaining Internet music.

“With the free trading software available, I can quickly find basically any music that I want,” Hurst said. “These new programs are trying to dodge the laws that Napster has been accused of breaking, and they will be much harder to shut down if record companies decide to go after them.”

In its prime, Napster provided an extensive selection of music to Internet users.

Unfortunately, many recording artists objected since they were receiving no monetary compensation for the trading of their music. The artists may have had a valid argument as many students report they are spending far less at the record stores.
“(Since Napster began), I buy far less CDs than I used to,” Hurst said. “And if I owned a CD burner I probably wouldn’t have a need to buy CDs at all anymore.”

Free music trading may have decreased the profits of some record companies, but often overlooked are up-and-coming artists who aren’t signed to a major label. Many new bands were able to gain publicity through Napster, but now that MP3 trading services are more spread out, it is more difficult to reach the number of users that were accessible on Napster.

Jordan Richardson, a junior radio-TV-film major and drummer for local rock band Soviet Space, said many independent labels and artists are working to maintain a presence in the new MP3 trading services and he thinks these lesser-known artists will remain accessible over these services.

“Free music is a very positive thing,” Richardson said. “We put our own music on the Internet because we want it to be out there where people can hear us. It’s a great tool for bands who are starting out.”

Napster may have triggered the free music revolution, but when it was muzzled, other systems improved on the idea and left Napster behind. For now, it seems, free digital music is here to stay.

Jeff Dennis


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