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Irresistible Forces: The Business Legacy of Napster and the Growth of the Underground Internet



Irresistible Forces: The Business Legacy of Napster and the Growth of the Underground Internet

Trevor Merriden

ISBN: 978-1-841-12170-3 October 2001 Capstone 194 Pages


This book is about - but not only about - Napster. The story of Napster is important in its own right, but its legacy even more so. The phenomenon that surrounds Napster has highlighted the extraordinary potential for the mass mobilisation of consumer and community power. This irresistible force - the underground Internet - has blown apart conventional models of doing business.

Merriden charts the birth of Napster and its genesis in Internet music communities. He describes in detail how big businesses felt complacent enough to ignore Napster, only to turn on it when the truth about their business models dawned. As the big companies got nasty, Bertelsmann and Thomas Middelhof broke ranks and did a deal with Napster.

The rapid spread in Napster's popularity has made many businesses sit up and notice. And it wasn't just because of the court room battles highlighted by the media every day. Some estimates put the peak number of Napster users at around 58 million. Hard to ignore the cries of the masses. Through the aftermath of those bloody court rooms, Napster has left a lasting impact on the future of e-business. This legacy affects more than music and record companies. In irresistible forces, Trevor Merriden shows how all businesses who have an interest in the Internet should pay attention. The influence on business of file sharing and peer-to-peer technology will be profound in the years ahead.

Preface and Acknowledgements

1 The Birth of the Napster Phenomenon

2 The Growth of the Underground Internet

3 Big Boys Get Angry

4 The Battle Commences

5 The Voice of the People: The Fury of the Underground Internet

6 Bertelsmann (and The End of Napster As We Know It)

7 Children of Napster -
Music and Video

8 Will Online Subscription Prosper

9 Napster, File Sharing, Peer to Peer - and the Impact on the Wider Business World

10 Newcomers and Old Stagers

11 Irresistible Forces and Immovable Objects

12 Conclusions
"...the story is gripping reading, but Merriden's grasp of the wider implications is even more impressive..." (Cre@te Online, November 2001)

"..a good job of telling an interesting tale while analysing the implications apparent today..." (Electronics Times, 12 November 2001)

"..a gripping read and a fascinating account.." (M2 Communications, 6 December 2001)

"...captivating account...a fine browse." (, 22 October 2001)

"...detailed and enjoyable...Irresistible Forces is a soundtrack for the new world of the internet." (The Manager, January 2002)