From All Access –

Who knew, at the time, what an affect NAPSTER would have on the music business. Amazingly, it was exactly 10 years ago TODAY (12/7) that the RIAA sued NAPSTER, the online, peer-to-peer file sharing service that allowed millions of computer users to score free, copyright music.

WIRED MAGAZINE writes that “NAPSTER founder SHAWN FANNING won rock-star celebrity with the service. But music-industry heads were spinning. So, the RIAA sued NAPSTER and all of its financial backers in federal court in SAN FRANCISCO. The outcome eventually defined the rules of online, peer-to-peer file sharing networks.”

The case began 10 years ago TODAY and didn’t end for almost eight years.

Both an appeals court and a federal in SAN FRANCISCO ruled in 2002 that NAPSTER was “liable for contributory or vicarious copyright violations, because it was allowing millions of users to download music for free”.

Continued the WIRED article, “with a bankrupt NAPSTER unable to cough up big financial damages, the industry turned to the transnational GERMAN media conglomerate BERTELSMANN. The lawsuits accused BERTELSMANN of copyright infringement for propping up NAPSTER financially with loans totaling $85 million. The lawsuits claimed the firm wanted ‘to preserve NAPSTER’s user base for BERTELSMANN’s own commercial advantage.”

It took millions for BERTELSMANN to settle the suits. The company agreed in 2006 to pay UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP, $60 million to settle the allegations. EMI got an undisclosed amount in 2007, and WARNER MUSIC GROUP settled that same year for $110 million.

I am still of the opinion that the RIAA would have done more good for recording artists if they’d worked Fanning instead of suing him into the ground.