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Napster: Ten years of change

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In June 1999 a US teenager wrote a computer program that turned the music industry on its head, and created shockwaves that are still being felt by the global entertainment business a decade later.

His name is Shawn Fanning and the program was Napster.

As a 19-year-old undergraduate in Boston, Fanning's program let friends connect and share music on their computers. Initially, it seemed innocuous but Napster unleashed a social, technical and commercial revolution.

By letting friends swap MP3 tracks, perfect digital copies of music, Napster made the casual copying and exchanging of music among friends into a global, automated and simple process that threatened the music industry, whose business model was in no way geared, or even prepared, for the digital online age.

"It feels like such a long time ago," Fanning says. "It seemed like the world was much simpler back then; the net was a lot simpler; a large majority of people I was close to were not interested in the internet."

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