Comprehension Exercise – 17 (ISC Unseen Comprehension)

Comprehension Exercise – 17

Creative Writing – 63

Model ISC unseen comprehension question set. Read the following write-up and answer the questions.

Write-up sourced from BBC

On 1 June 1999, a piece of computer software was released that changed the way we listen to music forever. [Line 1 to 2]

Napster didn’t exactly sound like something that would cause consternation in the boardrooms of record companies. But within a few short years it would spell the end of the gold rush record companies had enjoyed in the age of the CD, and change how music is consumed and even written. [Line 3 to 6]

Napster was the brainchild of Shawn Fanning, a 19-year-old US computer hacker who had worked out a way to share music for free. It was, essentially, a cataloguing system that searched your hard-drive, listed all the MP3 music files contained in it, and allowed those to be shared with and played by anyone else using the software. Together with Sean Parker, Fanning created a service that made music discovery almost instant and without cost. [Line 7 to 12]

“It was something that provided a better, more reliable and fun way for people to share music and see each other’s music collection,” Fanning told the BBC World Service. “For the first time this full history of recorded music was available online to everyone instantly.” [Line 13 to 16]

Compared to the music streaming services we now have available at the click of a button or even a few short words directed at a smart speaker, Napster required a little more effort before you could reap the rewards. First you had to download the software. You also had to mark the directory that you stored your music files as “shared” so that other Napster users could access it. Then you connected to the internet, fired up the Napster software, then typed in the name of the song or artist you were looking for. Napster would connect you with other users who had a copy of that song, and then allow you to download it. [Line 17 to 24]

It was an industry-destroying genie, and Napster was the spell that released it from the bottle forever. Its initial release was unheralded – the music industry’s attention was mostly fixated on the Backstreet Boys’ album Millennium, which was released a week before and sold more than 1.13 million copies, breaking the first-week sales record in the US. [Line 25 to 29]

Napster came at the end of a decade of expansion and healthy profits in the global music industry. The CD had become an enormously popular format; almost one billion were sold in the US in 2000, and at around $16 an album, they weren’t exactly cheap. The 1990s gave birth to many classic albums, but not every LP was deep-pile quality from start to finish. People were paying a premium price for a CD which might contain only two or three songs they wanted. [Line 30 to 35]

So, the lure of free music proved just too enticing to fans, and the music industry was initially slow to respond to the looming crisis. As former Rolling Stone journalist Steve Knopper wrote in his book Appetite For Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash Of The Record Industry In The Digital Age, the way the music industry dealt with Napster paved the way for a series of disastrous decisions the industry made as the sheer scale of the digital threat started to become clear.  [Line 36 to 41]

While one record label – A&M – filed the first lawsuit against Napster, it was a band’s campaign that captured the public attention. Metallica took Napster to court after finding an alternative mix to their song I Disappear on the service – a version which had never been officially released. On 13 April 2000, Metallica filed a lawsuit against Napster for copyright infringement, racketeering and unlawful use of digital audio interface devices at a district court in Northern California. Metallica then tracked down the names of 335,000 Napster users who had shared their music and asked Napster to ban them from the service (which Napster did). Metallica’s crusade created a backlash, with some of their own fans seeing it as a personal attack against them. [Line 42 to 50]

Knopper, now an editor-at-large for Billboard, tells BBC Music that the music industry’s sue-first response to Napster only exacerbated the negative effects – especially as Napster was joined by a raft of other file-sharing sites. [Line 51 to 53]


(a) Answer the questions according to the instructions.

(i) The following words have been taken from the passage. Make sentence with them in your own way, so that there is no similarity with the way it is used in the passage.

1. Consternation (line 3)   2. Fixated (line 27)    3. Crusade (line 49)

(ii)These words appear in the passage. Make sentences using them for their alternate meanings. Don’t change the form of the word.

1. Spell (Line 4)      2. Fired up (line 23)     3. Raft (line 53)

(iii) Explain the following in your words. Make two sentences for your answer.
1. …….. It was an industry-destroying genie, and Napster was the spell that released it from the bottle forever. (Line 25-26)

2. ……Knopper, now an editor-at-large for Billboard, tells BBC Music that the music industry’s sue-first response to Napster only exacerbated the negative effects – especially as Napster was joined by a raft of other file-sharing sites. (Line 51-53)

(b) Answer the following briefly in your own words.

i) Who was Shawn Faming? What did he do to Music industry?
ii) What benefit the disruption brought to the music-loving public?
iii) How did Metallica try to counter Napster?
iv) What are Knopper’s views on the advent of Napster?

(c) How did Napster spell the doom of the CD’s role in Music industry? Do you see such disruptions happening presently in other industries too?


Consternation – The followers of all non-BJP political parties followed the election results with great consternation as big names from among them were crushed by the BJP juggernut.
Fixated – Quite early in his childhood days, the boy was fixated with the smart phone, and this habit ruined his studies and all chances of coming up in life.
Crusade – Anna Hazare had launched a crusade against corruption in public life, but it met with only limited success.

Spell – After a spell of fiery fast bowling, the Indian captain brought in the spinners.
Fired up – Netaji Subhas Bose’s stirring speech fired up the audience who made large cash donations to him on the spot for his liberation struggle.
Raft – When the ship began to sink, the passengers escaped using the handful of rafts kept for emergency.

1. With the advent of Napster, the technology and commercial practices of music industry was irreversibly disrupted. There was no way, the industry could go back to its old ways.

2. When Napster came in, music companies resorted to law suits to punish it and force it to shut down its disruptive business. Knopper says, such a knee-jerk move proved to be counter-productive as a few other file-sharing platforms joined Napster as defendants.


i) Shawn Faming was the tech wizard who conceived the technology that Napster was built on. In a way, he brought music to millions more, although he spelled the doom for the existing music companies.

ii) The music loving public can now enjoy songs and tunes of their choice at practically no cost. They have at their disposal a humongous library of music items that they can access 24×7 from their smart phones or any such device. It means recreational entertainment at one’s finger tips.

iii) Metallica went hammer and tongues against Napster by filing a slew of legal suites. Its aim was to intimidate Napster through costly legal battles, and claiming large compensation.

iv) Knopper feels that the action of music companies to strangulate Napster through law suites was ill-conceived, hasty, and counter-productive. It brought Napster many friends in the music-sharing business. They sided with Napster to fight off Metallica.

(c) Before the advent of Napster, music was recorded, stored, and sold through CDs. Millions of raw CDs were thus produced and consumed by the music industry. After Napster arrived, CDs lost their relevance and their production was severely cut.

No one knows what the future holds for the music-sharing platforms. Seeing the way, technology is evolving, the day may soon come when another innovation might push Napster-like companies to the same abyss where Metallica finds itself now.

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