It’s got plenty of the right ingredients – lawsuits, money and rock ‘n’ roll. That’s right. Napster the movie may be coming to a screen near you!
“I can confirm we’re in development on a project called ‘Napster’,” said Marc McCarthy, a spokesman for Starz Encore, a provider of movie programming for cable television operators that is a unit of Liberty Media Group.
McCarthy said there was no commitment for production of the movie on Napster. Nevertheless, the story of the phenomenally popular song-swap service that turned the $40 billion recording industry upside down is a natural for Hollywood spin doctors.
Officials at Redwood City, Calif.-based Napster declined to comment on the possibility of a movie or whether they have spoken with Scott Fields, the Los Angeles-based screenwriter who has been traveling across the country interviewing people for the script under development for Starz Encore.
Industry sources said Fields has met with people who have associated with the company and friends of Shawn Fanning, the Northeastern University dropout who at 18 wrote the source code for the music file-sharing program as a way for his friends to share their favorite songs online.
According to popular legend, Fanning called the program Napster for the nickname he earned in high school as a result of his perpetually nappy hair.
Soon after Fanning developed the program in mid-1999, computer networks on college campuses across the country were jammed with traffic from Napster users as they swapped songs as fast as their connections would allow.
Along came the recording industry executives who told their lawyers to declare war on the start-up company that revolutionized forever the way that music would be distributed.
The big labels cried foul, claiming that Napster had unleashed wholesale piracy of their music on the Web.
While Fanning has tried to keep a low profile amid the legal fallout, the company has grabbed the world’s attention and the young programmer’s face has already become a well-known image to young and old alike. Fanning and Napster executives have graced the covers of national news magazines and television shows. Lawsuits aside, the program ranks in terms of popularity as one of the greatest Internet applications of all time.
And while the recording industry has succeeded in curtailing the service with a crippling court injunction, the tiny start-up is still ticking and this week is set to get a new lease on life by signing a deal that may enable it to participate with the big labels on a new legitimate music subscription service it hopes to launch by the summer.
It’s a regular rags-to-riches story that may even have a happy ending and 70 million Napster fans who may be willing to watch it.