Napster was a groundbreaking peer-to-peer file-sharing service that revolutionized the music industry in the late 1990s. It was founded by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker and officially launched in June 1999. Napster allowed users to share and download music files directly from one another’s computers, creating a vast network of users sharing their music libraries. This peer-to-peer sharing model was in stark contrast to the traditional music distribution methods controlled by record labels and music retailers.
The platform’s ease of use and the ability to access a wide variety of music for free drew millions of users, reaching its peak with around 80 million registered users by February 2001. However, Napster’s success also led to significant controversy and legal challenges. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and various artists and record labels filed lawsuits against Napster, claiming copyright infringement. The legal battles ultimately led to a court-ordered shutdown of the service in July 2001.