The result of the legal war waged by the major labels on the original Napster in the early part of this century is well-known. Napster was sued out of existence. But did you know what even as the court case was in progress, several high-level record company executives were talking about buying Napster?
There was a big meeting on July 15, 2000, where they–and by that I mean Universal, Sony and BMG along with some venture capitalists–seriously discussed making a deal with Napster that was worth hundreds of millions or (according to one story $2 billion). But they couldn’t agree how to split Napster’s future value. Napster wanted it to be a 50-50 split. They labels wanted 90-10. When they couldn’t reach a deal on that, negotiations fell apart. Can you imagine how different music might be today had they made that deal?