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Why Napster matters

Napster is more than just a clever piece of software that facilitates music piracy. It is also at the forefront of a movement to reverse the centralisation of the internet and its takeover by big business which began in the mid-1990s.

By Tom Standage   October 2000

It is a music-lover’s dream come true. Type into your computer the name of an artist and the title of a song, and within a few seconds a list of matches pops up. Each entry in the list provides a link to the song in question, stored somewhere on the internet. A couple more clicks, and a few minutes later the song has been downloaded and is blaring from your computer’s loudspeakers. Hundreds of thousands of tracks by thousands of artists can be accessed from this global jukebox, called Napster, which is available around the clock, and free. No wonder…

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