Monday, November 29, 2004

File Sharing Ethics

With major advances in the internet over the past few years, there have been a growing number of available programs to enable file sharing between users. Napster was the first program to really harness the power of the internet to transfer songs from machine to machine. Although the government has cracked down on software and its user, the file sharing community has evolved to skirt around these laws and avoid prosecution. Napster relied on a more central server to direct communications between users and initiate song transfers. Newer file sharing programs are more peer to peer based (P2P) and directly connect users without the relay communications of the central server. This makes it much more difficult for users to be caught, and almost impossible to prevent file sharing without dealing directly with the Internet Service Providers.

I am sure that very little of the material shared through these programs is legal, and it has become an even bigger issue since movies, tv shows, pictures and other files are now being shared. This is quite the advancement from basic song sharing over 56k modems. I am not particularly concerned with getting caught sharing music or downloading copyrighted songs. The general public participates in these practices daily in staggering numbers, making it difficult for individual users to be picked out of a crowd. This is not to say that this mass downloading is healthy or moral, but it has become common practice in society today, and people are reluctant to give up something that is so beneficial with minimum effort.

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