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P2p Sharing: How Should the Law Attack Illegal Piracy?

Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,078 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,088 Views

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Across the United States, ranging from preteens to college students to adults, many people of all ages participate in the common act of file sharing. File sharing is defined as "the activity of making files available to other users for download over the Internet, but also over smaller networks" (P2p 1). More simply, people like to download things for free on the internet. Audio files are the most commonly shared files, despite the laws against it. However, the file sharing goes beyond music to movies, computer programs, and even files for academic use. The problem becomes: where is the line drawn between sharing and stealing? Who can say that sending one catchy song to a friend by email or AOL Instant Messenger is as harmful as burning mass copies of a new artist's CD and passing them out – or better yet, selling them - to all your neighbors?

The first instinct of the music and film industries is to put a stop to piracy by making it illegal, and threatening grave punishments to any teen that doesn't take a hint and instantly delete his free downloading program. So rather than outlawing peer-to-peer (or p2p) sharing and threatening teens with extreme consequences, the RIAA should go straight to the source and either eliminate or modify the p2p networks themselves.

Almost anyone living in the U.S. who keeps up with news would remember the notorious "Napster": the first downloadable computer software that made p2p sharing extremely popular, so popular that Napster was in fact shut down. Other free programs like Napster are Kazaa, Limewire, Morpheus, Kiwi Alpha, and the list goes on. The "free" Napster was replaced with software that now requires users to register for a subscription before using the service. ITunes is another famous and somewhat new software that requires users to pay 99 cents for each song they download.

After the fairly recent surge of internet downloads, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) stated that anyone found guilty of piracy would face charges of up to 5 years in prison, or even fines of $250,000.00 (Piracy 1). I know that even as an eighth grader downloading songs for free in my house - as extreme as these charges are - I was not scared into changing my ways. At the time, I would never consider wasting money on entire albums costing over $12.00, for one song worth about 99 cents according to ITunes. I could download an infinite number of songs, usually no more than 4 a day, for free!

When it comes down to the actual piracy offenders, the majority of them are college students or teens who download a few songs a week from home, since colleges and universities themselves have made strict rules to scare students from even having a file sharing program on their computer, regardless of whether or not they use it. Yes, there are those few people out there who download an entire album and sell hundreds of copies for profit, and just


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