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Are peer-to-peer networks for criminals?

What is a Peer-to-Peer Network?

Commonly abbreviated as P2P simply stated, a P2P network is any group of individual computers that can communicate with one another. What does that mean? Well if I have a bunch of files sitting on my home computer and I want to share them Jim Bill in Buffalo, I can setup my computer to share with him (and most likely many others).

What are the advantages of a P2P Network?

Since P2P networks don’t always rely on the client-sever model (where you have to “login” to something) files can be shared freely. There is no company or service to shutdown, as was the case with Napster. This has two effects. One, there is nothing to control, so files can be shared without hindrance from “Tha Man” (see terms below). Two, if one or two computers go down, there are still plenty of others on the network, allowing for a very fault tolerant system.

Another advantage is community. By sharing files, we are also sharing ideas. Not all of the technologies for setting up P2P networks are simply plug-n-play. Many people need help, so they ask their questions on forums or dig around what other people have done. It also creates a barter system of sorts, where some people will trade this for that. The biggest winner in cases like these are rare or lost works. Have you ever wondered what happened to your favorite TV show or old song that you can’t find in the store? You can likely find it online…

A good example of how this all works. Let’s say a new garage band from Little Rock wants to gain exposure and have a fan base, they would normally go through a record label, spend tons of $$ and hope to produce an album that may get some air time. This is very costly and time consuming and also relies on many other people to get it done. They just want to share their love of music with the world. Instead of going through all the hassle of producing an album, they slap a CDs worth of music together one night and then post it on their favorite P2P system for the entire world to share.

What’s wrong with this virtual utopia?

According to RIAA, the only good that P2P networks are for is pirating. Please refer to their website for pending cases. Without getting into too many specifics, RIAA and several other companies feel that consumers don’t deserve fair use (see terms below). For me, P2P has been great. I abuse my CDs pretty badly, so it’s nice when I get a horkin scratch, I can download whatever song has been compromised, and burn a new CD. As I understand it, I am entitled to the content of the CD when I purchase it, not the media itself. Otherwise, every time I scratch my CD, I would call up Sony and ask them for a new one…

The online world is a mirror of the real world. There are good and bad people. There is good and bad content. I feel it is up to the end user to decide what is good or bad. If you are downloading and burning the latest Britney Spears album and then selling those copies to your friends at school, then you’re a pirate. There is a lot of pirated stuff online, so beware. Companies are also trying to stave off pirating by uploading corrupted or blatantly false material.

What do artists think about this? Check it out here.

What are the technologies?

How can I get involved?

Pick one of the above programs and happy uploading and downloading. Remember, the more content you add the better the overall content will be. Please check the forums for discussion and how-to’s.


P2P: Peer-to-peer

Tha Man: Any government or other agency that wants to control access to information or hinder freedom of speech.

RIAA: Recording Industry Association of America

Fair Use: As I understand it, you have the right to have the original, plus a copy as a back up. You can also share multiple copies of copyrighted material so long as it follows these rules:   

Fault tolerant: Able to withstand failures and still function.

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