In re Napster, Inc. Copyright Litigation

191 F. Supp. 2d 1087 (N.D. Cal. 2002)

Screenshot of the original Napster.

Napster was the first popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software. At its peak popularity, it was used by up to 13.6 million people in the United States alone. The company and its eponymous software had only been released a few months when it was sued by the "Big Four" recording studios.

In July 2001, a court ordered Napster to shut down its file servers, which prevented further file sharing. Then, on September 24, 2001, Napster settled out of court, agreeing to pay $36 million in damages. Napster tried but failed to introduce a version of their software that was compatible with copyright controls.

In May of 2002, Napster announced it was being bought out by Bertelsmann AG, the German media giant. However, a bankruptcy judge blocked the merger and the company was sold at auction to Roxio, which promptly used the Napster name to rebrand its pre-existing electronic music service, Pressplay. In 2011, Napster was acquired by Rhapsody, another music service.