Welcome to a world where you can share files with people from all over the world. File sharing makes the file system of another host appear as if it were part of the local file system. Instead of a central file list, your searches are distributed to thousands of other people in the community, who will respond with your search results. To share files with others and to help the community grow, you just keep the agent running at all times. Peer to peer networking is raising plenty of questions as it radically changes online music distribution. You can download movies, music, pictures, software, documents, or whatever. Have easy uncensored access to the information you are looking for.
Some peer to peer networks are centralized, which means they have a central computer server to help direct traffic. This makes them easier to use, but also makes them vulnerable to lawsuit. Other networks aredecentralized, also referred to as distributed, like Gnutella and Freenet. Because these decentralized networks have no central server, each user must connect to a computer that’s already connected, a generally more cumbersome process. This lack of a centralized computer (or centralized organization of any kind) means there’s no way to stop or censor these networks. File sharing services didn’t just upset the music business, they introduced a completely new way of using the Internet. Before P2P, Internet users could only download from Web sites or FTP sites. But when Web surfers are connected to a P2P network, they can also download from each other’s hard drives. This is an enormous change. The innovative brilliance of this concept has been obscured by the controversy it has created, the legal battles, its challenge to the very necessary idea of copyright. But the issues raised by file sharing doesn’t change the fact that it makes the Net’s offering exponentially bigger. Peer to peer networking is here stay. Judging from the fact that Napster grew to over 30 million users in about two years, P2P file sharing has already become one of the central forces shaping the Internet. Napster is already gone, but it was only the first of dozens and probably hundreds of peer to peer networks. Many other developers have taken this concept and added their own twist. An entirely new cottage industry has sprung up: developing file sharing networks, swapping everything from music to videos to graphics to, well, whatever.
Forrester estimates record labels and book publishers have lost billions of dollars because of file sharing. Forrester interviewed 50 entertainment companies that produce five different kinds of content — music, movies, books, video games and television. While executives interviewed said that they will use DRM technology to stop file-sharing and sue Internet companies and consumers that don’t respect their copyrights, but that effort will be futile. Although, for now, movie companies have less to fear. The ways consumers use music are different from the ways people use movies. Pay-per-view and video rental business model serves consumers in the way they want, and it provides a cushion for the movie industry to transition to digital distribution over time. The next generation of peer-to-peer networks will need to offer media companies, enterprises and content owners a way to control, track and monetize their media assets. They will integrate digital video content, digital rights management and commerce technologies into its peer-to-peer network. Business models that depend on content control won’t reap sustainable revenues. Publishers should treat file sharing services like competitors, and not presume it’s going to go away. They think of themselves as manufacturing companies, but that’s not the way consumers think about music. They want to be able to access music as a service. Sites that embrace artistic works as service to be provided and not a commodity to be manufactured will see the profits that traditional publishers lose, as will artists that move toward self-publishing. File sharing networks are actually proving a good way for small bands to gain a wider audience. Musicians, authors, and third-party service companies will actually gain billions of dollars according to Forrester.
Consumers have spoken, and they demand access to content by any means necessary. Neither digital security nor lawsuits will stop Internet theft of content. Napster’s power stood as an indication of what Forrester Research terms “collapse of control.” File-sharing services are among the fastest growing Web sites ever. Lawsuits against file sharing companies haven’t exactly stigmatized online trading of pirated music – music consumers will always move to underground Internet services. The innovative brilliance of this concept has been obscured by the controversy it has created, the legal battles, its challenge to the very necessary idea of copyright. But the issues raised by file sharing doesn’t change the fact that it makes the Net’s offering exponentially bigger.
Author: David Jurus