The Ethics and Legality of File Sharing on the Internet

The Advantages and Disadvantages of P2P File Sharing

The online resource website More Process provides an article that was both comprehensive as well as unbiased on this subject. The author segmented the pros and cons in an easy to understand manner. Hence, the advantages that were stated could be summarized as follows:

 

  1. Since the resources in a P2P file-sharing network are distributed among host computers, the failing of one such computer does not affect the performance of the entire network.
  2. The most significant among its advantages is that the performance of the network increases with the increase in the number host computers.
  3. Since the network is built on the inter-connectivity of host computers, there is no specific administrator to look after the network. The network is managed and improved by its users.
  4. Since the need for servers is removed, the costs that can be seen in typical file sharing protocols
    are negligible here.

 

The disadvantages can also be summarized as follows:
 

  1. Since there is no reliable authority to scan the shared files, there is a risk of transferring viruses and malware from computer to computer.
  2. Since P2P file sharing is mostly considered illegal in the United States as well as in certain European countries, there is a problem of violating copyright laws.

 

Modern Computers and P2P File Sharing

An article published by the University of Dartmouth provided the following summarized information on this article.
 
Computers have been around since the dawn of the 20th century, but no greater revolution has happened than in the past decade. Modern computers are file-sharing beasts – capable of supporting multiple types of file sharing protocols. A simple flash drive, DVD, email and even instant messengers have transformed computers and similar devices into file sharing hosts. That being said, file sharing occurs on a grand scale everyday. From the simple image sharing via SnapChat, to the audio and video sharing on Skype, WhatsApp and even Viber has everyone using some sort of file sharing, whether they know it or not.
 
Users tend to share copyrighted music, videos and even illegal content via these services – yet it is only P2P File Sharing that is accused and harassed for misconduct and copyright infringement.
 

The Real Deal

With reference to Media Commons, P2P file sharing can be considered as important for today’s society. While the amount of money earned by record labels from the sale of sound tracks to its customers has reduced, these losses have been overcome by a collection of new growing sources of revenue, mostly from the free distribution of music via online platforms such as Spotify.
 
P2P file sharing has been victimized for being an illegal tool over the years. I would try in this report to showcase an unbiased viewpoint as well as a conclusion into the ethical and legal structure of P2P file sharing.
 
P2P file sharing has been around since the late ‘90s in an age where computers and their uses grew day by day. Modern computers as well as mobile devices can be shown as file sharing beasts – machines so powerful, yet compact and efficient in every way – with the ability to conduct every imaginable type of file transfer. From NFC, Bluetooth and Wireless to TCP/IP, FTP, and even P2P – computers and devices alike are built with the ability to communicate with each other and transfer files, without a size limit.
 
With the advent of social networking and the transformation of mobile devices into an everyday norm, users across the globe use file sharing day in and day out. Sending multimedia and data across various messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and even social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter utilizes the concept of file sharing.
 
However, although copyright infringement is illegal, it is my opinion that there is a necessity for it in
today’s world as emphasised with the following points.
 

  • File sharing is necessary for the development of third world countries such as our own. With the limit in wealth and the high costs that need to be incurred in obtaining information from official sources, file sharing is the perfect method for efficient development.
  • As an Open Source enthusiast, I believe that knowledge is meant to be free. With the use of P2P file sharing, an equal distribution of knowledge and information can be achieved. Although this might be with a considerable amount of copyright infringement, with the introduction of Open Source Licensing, all works of art as well as data can be licensed, yet distributed free of charge.