Peer to peer services operate by allowing other users to access files on a specially portioned off area of a person's hard drive, their share folder. The so called peer-to-peer client ia a piece of software that searches and compiles various indices of content sontained on the shared areas of everybody who looks on them.
Napster was by far the most useable of any of these servces because it hadf central servers which naturally optimised the whole process of searching and downloading immensely. However, thanks to a legal decision, peer-topeer networls which used central servers became illegal: If stolne copyright material passes through your server, you are technically handling stolen good, although the interpretation of this law has been subjected to harsh criticism.
Nowadays, a new breed of eer-to-peer service has evolved. It is serverless, for the most part, ith certain machines functioning as nodes on a temporary basis. They are more accurately peer-to-peer than napster was, but unfrtunately, they are also far more unreliable.
Napster has since been reborn as a pay-per-download service. However, it has proven unpopular, partly due to the increasing popularity of serverless networks, but also thanks to the influence of competing legal networks, including the omnipresent Itunes.
Technically, Napster and it's fellows don't have to be used to share music. any kind of file could be shared. But this has evolved into their primary use.
The legality of file sharing is clear cut, unfortunately. sharing music files is illedal. Whether or not it is moral is a matter of debate, and there and eben much hot air between the RIAA and some smaller music distributors. The future of file-sharing and MP3's as legal services or otherwise is uncertain. NOe thign, however, is certain, the actual technologies go from strength to strength, becoming increasingly decentralised until it's impossible to combat them.
There you go. If you're looking for a more or less accurate layman's description of Napster and fileshairng, there you go. To sample some of the debate, see everybody else's posts for this entry.
Napster was a P2P network
Napster was undoubtedly the greatest peer-to-peer program ever created, allowing millions of net users to download their favorite music at a price substantially smaller than the jacked up prices the RIAA makes us shell over. The price? Free.
Unfortunately, when someone decided to complain that they weren't getting $97 out of the millions they make every week, the RIAA decided to use that as an excuse to terminate Napster, thus forcing the legendary Shawn Fanning to turn the program into what is now the equivalent of O-Town: something we wish just died altogether.
Today there are some commendable file-sharing programs that, while doing their job, cannot match up to what Napster has brought to all of us.
-Hittin' up the dollar menu at McDonald's three times a day.
-Spending all day at a KFC to distract fellow brothers (who work there) from their duties while scoring free biscuits.
-Walkin' into a Friendly Food Mart to purchase Funions and loose cigarettes at least three times a day.
-Startin' fights over a pair of shoes (generally nikes, jordans, or ice creams).
-Stealin' FREE samples from a Costco or Sam's.
-Startin' beefs over territory-mainly who has control of the local KFC(s).
-Startin' fights over who has a nappier afro.
-Stealin' your TV.
-Dancing in public and being boisterous.
-Drivin' around in a beat up ghetto cruiser (typically a shitty old buick, oldsmobile, or cadillac).
-Bumpin' shitty rap music (usually lil jon, chamillionaire, TI, yung joc, snoop, or ray cash) from 12 AM until 4 AM
-Writin' rap music instead of doing their homework and then complaining when they don't get into college and have to wash cars or sweep the floors at McDonald's for the rest of their lives.
-Beggin' for change on the street instead of just gettin' a damn job.
-Wearin' baggy-ass jeans, Big-ass t-shirts, and du-rags like they are tough so they can cover up the fact that they are soft.
-Blowin' their weekly paycheck, pending that they work, the day that they receive it on bling bling and burr.
-Flappin' their big, bubba lips in the wind.
-Playin' halo or supersmash brothers until 5 AM and then going to sleep until 6 in the afternoon.
-Skippin' school to play halo all day.
-Lyin' around and doin' nothin' productive wit society.
-Hidin' in a basement when their city takes on 20 feet of water.
-sniggin' about or actin' a foo 24 hours a day.
-Thinkin' they are the best dancers.
-Thinkin' they are the shit.
-Bein' a nugga.
-pickin' bugs outta each others afros.
-And, finally, complainin' about Bush winnin' the election even though they was too lazy to get out and vote.