Alex Winter Turning Feature On Napster Into Documentary

For nearly a decade, actor-turned-writer/director had been working on feature film chronicling the rise of the controversial file sharing service Napster and its founder Shawn Parker and how it terraformed the online landscape in terms of how media is shared in cyberspace. But Winter has changed his plans and rather tell the story as a feature film, a la The Social Network, he will be telling it using the words of the actual people involved. Deadline broke the story that the project has now morphed into a documentary and that Parker and Shawn Fanning, who created the peer-to-peer file sharing technology that Napster was based on will be participating.

The rise and fall of Napster and the birth of peer-to-peer file-sharing technology created by Shawn Fanning when he was a college student, changed music to movies, and made possible everything from Julian Assange, WikiLeaks to the iPod and Facebook. It became an expression of youth revolt, and contributed to a complete shift in how information, media and governments work. And it is a fascinating human story, where this 18-year-old kid invents a peer-to-peer file-sharing system, and brings it to the world six months later.

Winter states that he will be telling both sides of the story.

Nobody wanted to deal with this college kid and the music industry took a hard stance and focused on shutting him down… It’s a gray area. I can understand Fanning’s side, but I can also empathize with the horror that Metallica’s Lars Ulrich felt when a single that wasn’t even finished ended up on the radio.

Winter is still working on pulling together other music industry business types and artists to add their perspectives on the story. I would be more than a little disappointed if Ulrich didn’t participate in the project.

There’s no word yet as to when the documentary will be released, but I’m looking forward to seeing it when it is.  It’s an incredible story that Winter is looking to tell and I’m a bit surprised that no one has thought to tell it before.

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About Rich Drees 7202 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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