College student Shawn Fanning launched the Napster peer-to-peer file-sharing service twenty years ago, in June of 1999, from his dorm room at Northeastern University. Napster radically changed the landscape with respect to all aspects of content distribution. It raised questions about legal liability where technology allows sharing of pristine digital files without a copyright owner’s permission. It prompted re-examination of decades-old business models premised on the manufacture and distribution of physical media. And, it divided artists and creators, with some seeing the potential of direct fan engagement and others lamenting revenues lost to piracy.
This panel discussion addresses the topic of “Napster @ 20,” looking back from our vantage point in 2019 and examining the direct and indirect legacy of Napster over the past two decades. The panelists are Christopher Bavitz, Nancy Baym, David Herlihy, and Jennifer Jenkins.