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Publicly downloadable music has been provided on the World Wide Web since University of California students, Jon Luini, Rob Lord, and Jeff Patterson, opened the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA) in 1993. These three individuals had originally designed and developed IUMA to allow independent artists to spread their music to fans without the use of record companies. After many years of being bought and sold, and closing off new submissions in 2001, IUMA eventually shut down in 2006. Online music, however, had sparked the development of sites, programs, and businesses over the years and had opened gates to numerous new clients, musicians, and even lawsuits.
Many companies that had already been in the music business were tested, as none could develop a program or device that imposed the regulations that protected their products (copyrighted music). These companies that owned the copyrights wanted to charge upwards of £2.00 ($3.50), as well as, set downloads to expire after a period of time. Meanwhile, others were developing, or had developed, free software in which would allow the music listening population to share music for free; obviously, the masses took to this very easily.
The largest name known in the file sharing business is Napster, due to its lengthy and much publicized lawsuit for infringing copyrights. As the program worked as a peer-to-peer file sharing program, various decentralized file sharing programs have since spun off as successors. Controlling these torrent-bases programs was, and is, difficult, allowing them to be very popular among the musical populace.
Today, after many allegations, countless legal meetings, and the actual coming to fruition of the recording industry, companies such as Rhapsody, Apple, and Wal-Mart could finally offer products for reasonable prices in which consumers actually paid for their music. These three online music giants, as well as many other companies, offer music in downloadable and streaming forms which are legal and copyright protected. As of early 2009, Apple's iTunes actually amounted 6 billion downloads, encompassing 70% of the entire online music market.
Overall, the online music industry has come a long way since 1993. Starting out with only independent musicians on IUMA, to the development of successful software and websites that met the restrictions of music producing companies, online music has finally been accepted. Unlike its predecessors like records, cassettes and compact discs, online music is only a click away, and will be here for a very long time.