Napster is the system that made peer-to-peer sharing of MP3 music files easy. This posed a major threat to all recording companies. They brought suit, charging Napster with contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Subsequently in the case, it was ordered that the recording companies were to provide Napster with lists of recordings. Once that had been done, Napster had the burden to promptly remove those recordings from its system. In 2001 Napster agreed to use screening technology to block distribution of files identified by the recording companies.
A full decade after Napster taught the world to share; the music industry’s resistance to new business models continues to obstruct some of the very services that could preserve it, albeit in a smaller, more efficient form.
The future depends on finding the right mix between “free” and “paid,” luring fans away from file sharing networks by offering them services that are faster, easier, and more convenient without asking them to subsidize the industry’s return to CD era profits.