When creators, corporations and consumers collide: Napster and the development of on-line music distribution Academic Article uri icon


  • The Internet is often depicted as the ultimate arena for unfettered capitalism, erasing geographic boundaries and barriers to entry while providing a plethora of goods and services to consumers. This article traces how public and private reactions by the five major record companies to new Internet distribution technologies have undermined this popular myth. We use a political economic approach to examine the case of A & M Records et al. v. Napster, and discuss how this case underscores the importance of controlling the Internet as an entertainment distribution pipeline. Expressed concerns about piracy mask the actual intentions of the 'Big Five' - control of all modes of distribution. The strength of the Big Five's cartel has a momentum of its own based in its market oligopoly, which has been secured through its ownership and management of intellectual property; through format changes and setting standards for other technologies; and through lobbying and legal activities.

published proceedings

  • Media, Culture and Society

author list (cited authors)

  • McCourt, T., & Burkart, P.

complete list of authors

  • McCourt, T||Burkart, P

publication date

  • May 2003