Napster Meister

Bertelsmann boss Thomas Middelhoff pulls off a shocking deal. And he's just warming up

Thomas Middelhoff liked the Post House because the clubby Manhattan restaurant seemed just the place in which to persuade Shawn Fanning that the two men had a lot more in common than a lawsuit. It was early September. Middelhoff, 47, chairman of Bertelsmann, the world's third largest media conglomerate, had never met Fanning, 20, whose ingenious file-sharing program, Napster, had created the world's biggest online free-music community--one that was costing Middelhoff and the rest of the music industry many millions of dollars in lost sales. But by the time they tucked into their steaks, the code-writing whiz was digesting the media...

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