An MP3 is a kind of file used for sending music or other material over the Internet. These files are compressed, or reduced in size, compared to songs on a compact disc, or CD. MP3 files are played on a computer using media programs like iTunes or Windows Media Player.

MP3s can also be played on iPods and other small players as well as some wireless telephones that can store music. Many players can hold thousands of songs yet are small enough to carry in your pocket. Changing, or converting, a song from a music CD to an MP3 file is called "ripping." Software for ripping is available by itself and in programs like iTunes and Windows Media Player.

The MP3 was developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany and other laboratories in the nineteen eighties. By the late nineteen nineties, music fans were beginning to change their music collections from CDs to MP3s. They were also able to download MP3 music files from the Internet much faster because of the MP3’s smaller file size.

File-sharing services quickly began appearing on the Internet. They made it possible for people to exchange copyrighted music at no cost. However, the record industry started to get concerned because people were trading free music on the Internet instead of buying it in music stores.

A few years ago, the original Napster Web site was one of the most popular music-sharing services. But then the music industry won court cases that decided that this kind of file-sharing was illegal and violated copyright laws.

MP3 files are still shared on the Internet today. People also buy them from online music stores. The new Napster Web site is one of these services that charges money for MP3s on the Internet.