P2P use has become an everyday occurrence for many internet users, allowing users to download content reliably, reasonably quickly and quite often, copyrighted material free of charge. Ok, now I hear those P2P virgins cry, “What is P2P?!”. And in response; P2P (peer to peer) is simply connecting to other computers via the internet, and in this case, to download files from them free of charge.
The use of P2P has been attacked by record companies and pro-copyright organisations since the very beginning. Napster was one of the first large P2P systems seen, which allowed users to download music free of charge, however Napster was “shutdown” in 2001 when a court ordered that Napster prevent all illegal file sharing on it’s networks. This, of course, was almost impossible for Napster to do without pulling the plug, and in March 2001 Napster networks were shut down. Later to be re-opened legally, to provide legal music downloads at a price.
Nowadays, programs such as Limewire, Bearshare and Kazaa are used which, in theory, can never be stopped by any legal force, owning to the fact that illegal content is not hosted on any particular server, but on many computers, so blaming the actual programs cannot be legally justified. In effect, the only way to stop P2P file sharing is to nuke the entire internet.
However, in the last year or two, the file sharing community has seen a rising amount of prosecutions and threats from record companies, for “illegal” and “mindless” copyright infringement as a result of P2P file sharing of music and movies. One of the most recent cases involving the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is that of a 10 Year Old girl who was found to be downloading music using a P2P program, where the RIAA allegedly “bullied” and “threatened” her into co-operating with them. There have been many other prosecutions across the US and into other countries too, often with the same ruthlessness as this one.
The use of P2P was changed when a new method of downloading and sharing files was designed and programmed by Bram Cohen. This new method was called “Bittorrent”. Other programmers soon caught onto this method and other Torrent clients were released, such as KTorrent and Azureus. The idea behind using a torrent, is that the user downloads a small file which has the extension .torrent, and this torrent tells the client, eg. KTorrent, where to download parts of the file from. This offers a very stable and reliable method of downloading via P2P.
The RIAA and various other anti-P2P organisations continue to prosecute and threaten users of P2P, however, the majority of sharers will keep sharing….the RIAA cannot stop millions of users worldwide, P2P is here, and it’s here to stay!
NOTE: File sharing is not illegal… but downloading material that is not legally owned by you is ILLEGAL, do so at your own risk.