From Napster to Google Books: The Future of Digital Content Distribution

Open Access
Boyle, Colleen Anne
Area of Honors:
English (University College)
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Hester Maureen Blum, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Honors Advisor
  • Napster
  • Google Books
  • content distribution
  • RIAA
  • Google
  • Authors Guild
  • Association of American Publishers
  • digital library
Napster and Google Books are both examples of programs that have contributed to the digital distribution of content. The company Napster, which avoided forming a partnership with industry representatives, was sued by the music industry and ultimately shut down. However, the music industry’s fight against digital music did not end with Napster’s closing. The MP3 file has become music’s new medium, and the industry was forced to embrace the new technology, as consumers’ expectations warranted its use. After its battle with Napster, the music industry found that collaboration was a necessary and inevitable strategy. For Napster, such collaboration could have saved the company. Google is in the middle of a similar content copyright lawsuit with the representative group the Authors Guild. I argue in this paper that Google and the Authors Guild can learn from the events surrounding Napster and pursue collaboration instead of a court ruling. In the end, the digital book and digital library revolutions will continue to progress, as the digital music revolution did. A partnership will allow both Google and the Authors Guild to have a say in the future of digital books.