The lowdown on Napster

Read this for everything you needed to know about Napster, its clones and its critics. Justin Pearse reports
Written by Justin Pearse, Contributor

If the music industry didn't have a tech-induced migraine already, the arrival of Napster would definitely get its the brain cells throbbing. Couple that with the arrival of cleverer Napster clones, and things are beginning to look difficult to say the least.

Potentially most worrying, and not just for the music industry, is the arrival of Wrapster, which allows any type of file, including video and software, to be freely traded over the Web.

Experts in every field agree there's nothing they can do to stop it.

A week is a long time online... ZDNet looks at five days in the life of a software application called Napster

    Before you read anything, read this:

  • Napster, Gnutella, Wrapster. What's it all about and what impact is having in the UK? Find out here.
  • The ever smouldering MP3 debate sparked up again on Wednesday, as Napser clone Gnutella hit the Web.
  • Only a day later, a red faced AOL ripped Gnutella down, claiming it was an unauthorised freelance project from a rogue band of programmers.
  • Despite the best efforts of the AOL Time Warner colossus, Gnutella began springing up all over the place on Tuesday.
  • By Thursday, Napster released a revised version to ease bandwidth congestion and get it back into US colleges.
  • And ZDNet discovered us Brits have missed the boat. None of the IT departments in universities throughout the UK had even heard of Napster.
  • The arrival of Wrapster on Thursday, with its ability to send any type of file over the Napster network, sent shivers down the spine of the Federation Against Software Theft. FAST admitted to ZDNet that it is powerless to prevent illegal software piracy through such applications.
  • The music industry is rightly scared of Napster, but only because it's the last remaining business that hasn't woken up to the Web. Go to AnchorDesk UK to read the news comment.

    Go to Rupert Goodwins MP3 Millenium technologies roundup at AnchorDesk UK.

    Is Napster a threat or the 'long-awaited' jewel? Go to the TalkBack forums to see what others are saying and have your say.

    Take me to ZD Downloads: Napster clients and alternatives.

    Take me to MP3 Newsroom.

    See also Shawn Fanning interview.

    Editorial standards