When the MP3 format was unleashed onto the relatively young Internet, it was an absolute game changer. It finally made audio files small enough to practically distribute over the Internet, as high-speed connections were still a luxury item for the majority of Internet users. But while it was the MP3 format that made it possible, it was undeniably Napster that brought it to the mass media.
In 1999, Napster completely changed the way people shared and listened to music; it helped start the trend of abandoning physical media for digital. Unfortunately, it also brought the wrath of the recording industry, and Napster was sued into oblivion after only 2 years.
Now, Ryan Lester (a developer currently working at SpaceX) has released a 21st century heir apparent to the original Napster, Napster.fm. Will Napster.fm one day be considered as influential as its namesake, or as digital music become so ambiguous that yet another streaming service won’t change anything?
To be very clear, Ryan Lester’s Napster.fm has no direct affiliation with the original Napster, Ryan is simply paying homage to the software which helped create the digital music industry most people now take for granted. Those who remember the original Napster will recognize features and functions that are reminiscent of the original (such as being able to see your friend’s music collection), but beyond that, it’s a completely different animal.
That being said, music hosted on YouTube is generally of questionably legality, as some are legitimate from the artists, while the majority are not. Napster.fm doesn’t appear to make any attempt at differentiating them, and it’s entirely possible the increased activity on those illegitimate YouTube clips which this tool will be sending their way only accelerates their removal from YouTube.
Open Source Protection
Only time will tell what YouTube’s reaction to Napster.fm will be, but one thing is for sure, nobody will be able to kill it. Napster.fm is released under the GPLv3, and the source is currently available on the social development site GitHub. As of this writing, there are already 13 separate forks of Napster.fm, meaning its source has already spread to far to ever be completely removed from the Internet.
Even if YouTube tries to shutdown Napster.fm, or if Ryan decides to stop work on it, Napster.fm is now too widespread to go away. No matter what, if the community wants it, Napster.fm is here to stay.