Technologies such as bit-torrent have given computer users the ability to download large files such as movies, music, and games. However, this technology has a been controversial since its introduction. The controversy rises over the use of this tool to illegally share copyrighted material such as film and music without charge. Corporations, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the law makers have been trying find ways to curb the downloading of their copyrighted materials.
With recent news of prosecution, many people are worried about the legality around P2P file sharing and the use of bit-torrent technology. Most people will never have to worry about the law knocking down their doors in search of illegally obtained digital data that is stored on unsafely your drive. However, its good to know the facts to avoid making mistakes.
The dominant question is is P2P file sharing legal?
The easy answer is yes, Bit-torrent and other P2P technologies are nothing more than tools. However, a knife is a tool that can be used to cut your steak or kill someone. So, like any other tool, if its used inappropriately, there are consequences.
Files sharing is illegal if you download or distribute copyrighted material without the expressed consent of the author or copyright holder. This includes all copyrighted music and video which is the bulk of the content on torrents sites and content being shared via P2P applications. Downloading these files to your hard drive is the same as receiving stolen property. It is prosecutable in most places in U.S. and U.K.
Can people see what your downloading?
If you are using P2P networks, or torrents sites, your downloads can be traced to your computer. Your IP address is visible which uniquely identifies your computer. Also, the file download is hosted on a server. The owner of this server can determine what IP downloaded files from their servers. So your anonymity is not protected.
Is file sharing 100% safe?
There is no way to totally be sure that what you downloading is safe. There are a lot of untrustworthy sites. Often spy-ware and other malicious software can be attached to files. However, some bit-torrent services often allow you to preview files to ensure there authenticity.
What are some alternatives to P2P networks and Bit-torrent?
There are drop box services which don’t use P2P technology. These sites host a large file for download. You can download the whole file quickly and independently from other users. However, there is also a long line of people waiting for their turn to download the file.
If you are into downloading movies and music but don’t want to break any laws, don’t worry, the industry is catching up to the technology. Netflix and other companies have produced lighting speed downloads of major files. This comes at a cost. However, you avoid breaking the law and substandard quality.
There are also sites such as Hulu.com that allow you to stream video immediately. The quality varies from site to site. Also, the speed can be slow and choppy. For help on these problems check out. Slow Internet Videos tips page.
Bit-torrent and P2P file sharing is a great way to move large digital data from one user to the next. However, be careful because you don’t want to end up getting sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars just because you downloaded an episode of Gossip Girl.
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