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With a meager year and a half existence Napster has revolutionized the music industry with its leading person-to-person file sharing community Shawn Fanning who at the time was an eighteen year-old freshman at Bostons Northeastern University founded Napster in May 1999 With over 38 million users Napster is the fastest growing community in the history of the Internet This number will likely increase in the future as Napsters popularity continues to escalate According to an October study conducted by Webnoize the leading authority on the digital entertainment economy 69 of college students surveyed are monthly users of Napster while 43 use Napster on a weekly basis As a result Napster has captured the attention of venture capitalists who have acted quickly to secure their investment last spring Napsters unique ability to offer an easy-to-use high quality service has granted the company an unprecedented position in the music industry Unofficially valued at more than 100 billion it is no surprise that Napster and Shawn Fanning have been the recipient of numerous industry awards for technology innovation and marketing Not only can users search for new music by sharing music files among members free of charge Napster enables them to communicate with one another through instant messaging chat rooms and Hot List User Bookmarks By providing its users with free access to music file sharing the accountability of Napster has become a topic of serious debate Currently Napster is engaged in a serious legal battle with charges of violating copyright infringement laws The Recording Industry Association of America RIAA is representing five major record labels including Bertelsmann who argue that Napsters service is illegal because no fees are paid for use of their music However Napster argues that it is protected by the safe harbor provision of the 1998 Digital Millenium Copyright Act which states that Internet service providers are not liable if users of their service violate copyright laws Since Napster does not
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