I’m sure most of you know very little about illegal file downloading from the Internet. Over the last few years,
the number of users that have downloaded illegally have gone up dramatically, and that isn’t about to change any time
soon, as the sale of CD’s slipped 7% from last year in the first quarter of 2005. It is easy to take advantage of this
free and easy way to access music and other files. What is illegal file downloading, how does it work and why do people do
it? Read on to find out more about this subject.
Is Illegal Downloading And How Does It Work? Illegal file downloading, almost always P2P, or Peer-to-Peer file sharing,
isn’t hard or complicated. There are many programs that can be easily accessed that allow peers to share files freely
among each other. Among the more famous Peer-to-Peer file sharing programs are Limewire and Kazaa. It isn’t illegal
to share files from peer to peer, what makes it illegal is the files being shared, which are usually copyrighted, such as
songs, movies, or software. The software allows a user to upload files onto a network and/or download files from another user
off the network. Most of the files shared are illegal copyrighted files, which peers download for free with a click of a button.
Another kind of Peer-to-Peer file sharing device, known as torrents, are becoming more common. Torrents work faster
and more efficiently than traditional programs such as limewire or kazaa. When you download a torrent from a website, you
are downloading the imformation from a user who has completely downloaded the file, as well as users who have still downloaded
and have parts of the file. While you download parts of the file, you are also uploading parts to other peers, which makes
the overall process faster. This might seem confusing at first, but it is a rather simple concept. The more people sharing
the files or parts of files, the faster the download can be completed. To download a torrent, you need a torrent client, such
as Bitlord or ABC (Another Bittorent Client). These programs download the files for you, while distributing partial files
that you have downloaded to other users simultaneously.
Why Download Illegally? Why pay 99 cents a song, (iTunes music store) or subscribe to a service, (Napster, Real Rhapsody)
when you can access and download all the music, movies and software you want for free? Limewire and Kazaa offer unlimited
downloads for free, and the network contains virtually everything, music, movies, games, and other software, which aren’t
all available from stores.
A big reason why so many
people choose illegal downloading as an alternative to buying music is the risk of getting caught is very little or almost
non existent. The music industry has begun to sue people for downloading and sharing illegal music, but since there are so
many users, the possibility of getting caught is slim. Most victims sued by the music industry settle out of court, for amounts
of up to $4,500. The music industry doesn’t target anyone in particular, but a spokesperson said they generally go after
people who have downloaded more than 100 files. (who hasn’t?)
For those of you who haven’t
downloaded music through torrents, the process is quite simple. There are many sites that host torrents submitted by users,
which are downloaded through programs such as Bitlord or ABC. Torrents itself can contain one to as many files as desired.
The difference between torrent downloads and file sharing programs such as Limewire and Kazaa is that torrents usually contain
an entire CD or a band’s Discography, while with Limewire and Kazaa you search for a file and download specific songs
of your choice. To give you an example of a torrent hosting website, go to Torrentspy.com, search any music, game, or movie
you want, and you will be amazed at what comes up.
P2P Programs Illegal? There is great controversy surrounding the debate of whether these file sharing programs should
be deemed “illegal”. Limewire and Kazaa have been recently brought to court over this, but the ruling states that
these programs are not illegal. They argue that these programs can be used to distribute legal files and information, not
just illegal copyrighted files. They also claim that it is the users responsibility, and judgment, and own action to choose
to download or share illegal files on their network, and that they cannot be held responsible for users abusing the program
and sharing or downloading copyrighted music, movies, or software.
Personally, I find both of these statements to be very weak and irrelevant. In my brief period of time downloading
music illegally through Limewire, I have never actually found a legal downloadable file, with the exception of a file containing
a newer version of another file sharing program. In addition, Limewire should be held accountable for users who choose to
share and download illegal files through their program, since they have shown no resistance nor attempted to stop illegal
file sharers from uploading files onto their network. This is the same for Torrent download programs. The programs aren’t
illegal yet because all they do is help download the files, while uploading to other users at the same time. They don’t
choose illegal files to download; it’s the users who do that.
Take in account that downloads are fast, easy and free, and that the chance of getting caught is almost non existent,
and you will see why so many people choose to download or share files illegally. People download thousands of songs every
day illegally, and most of them will never be caught.