Interesting account of Napster and its creator.
But there was a huge leap of faith involved. Nearly everyone he mentioned the idea to believed it wasn’t workable. “It’s a selfish world, and nobody wants to share,” snorted his older, more experienced buddies from the IRC chat rooms. Fanning, an inarticulate teenager at the time, couldn’t adequately explain himself. He insisted that people would do it, because, like… just because.
We talk so much about social media and sharing these days. There are social networks to share pretty much anything. Which makes that previous paragraph especially striking.
We could all become music pirates because it was just so damn easy to do—easier even than ordering a CD online. And once that happened, would we ever be able to go back to getting into our car, driving to the mall and buying a shrink-wrapped piece of plastic with a little silver disc inside? “I don’t know how to stop it,” says Atlantic Records Group co-chairman Val Azzoli, of the problems created by Napster. “It’s not just music I’m worried about. It’s all intellectual properties. If you can take music, you can take everything else too.”
Back then, he thought he would just write the application and set it free—his name would be embedded deep in the source code and known only to the other hackers and programmers who care about such things. He misses that simple time, before magazine covers and TV interviews and Britney Spears and having to put on a goofy black suit and necktie to appear in court.