P2P Promulgation…Or Just File Sharing Whichever You Prefer

Let’s have a conversation about file sharing; more specifically, peer to peer file sharing (P2P). When it comes to making a copy of a CD or DVD, there are some grey areas that can be a little confusing. You’re more than welcome to copy that old Spice Girls CD you have – although I have no idea why you would want to.  Just be sure you don’t sell it or let a friend borrow it to make his own copies. File sharing is the same principal.  By letting others download files from you, you’re essentially letting them borrow and make copies for their own purpose.  You can make a thousand copies of your favorite song but you can’t share them….ever!  So say the music Nazi’s over at the Recording Industry of America (RIAA).

Who remembers Napster? (I bet Lars Ulrich does) It wasn’t the innovator, but they are themost memorable, due to the epic legal battle, spearheaded by Metallica and Dr. Dre. It concluded with Napster being sued and, soon thereafter, shut down.  This same thing has happened time and time again with the likes of Kazaa, Limewire, and sooner or later, Frostwire and Bearshare will suffer the same fates.  You see, unlike what your parents and the Care Bears taught you, sharing is not caring when it comes to music and movies. Many people believe that file sharing is stealing, or as the RIAA and Movie Picture Association of America (MPAA) like to call it…piracy.  And it is, sort of, but there is another side where it is not.  Confused yet? I told you there were grey areas.  There isn’t one place in the world where file sharing is illegal; unless, said file is protected by copyright. “So how do I know if it’s copy written, Bo?”  I’m going to answer that question with a question.  If you weren’t downloading a particular song or movie for free would you have gone out to Walmart and bought it?  If you answered “yes” then it’s most likely copy written.  “So, what types of files can I download that aren’t copy written? “Why, open source, of course.

Now our conversation is going to lead into money.  The cost to mass produce that David Hasselhoff CD you’ve had your eye on isn’t that much.  You’re looking at less than $1 to make one CD.  “THAT’S OUTRAGEOUS!  I have to pay $18.99 to listen to the Hoff! I’m just going to download it; they’re ripping me off” Well, no, not exactly; when you take into account how much it costs to produce an entire CD, professionally, you’re looking at thousands and thousands of dollars.  There’s a cost to pay for producers, executives, time in the studio, touring, equipment, an entourage, liquor,  a cheese burger, video camera, and a drunken rant published to the internet while eating that cheese burger just like the Hoff… Times have changed though; now you can just download that favorite song for $1.29 from iTunes and not have to purchase the rest of the album – it’s more economical.  I’ll tell you what’s not economical, though, are the fines for downloading that one Hoff song illegally.  You could, literally, get up to a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. THAT’S FOR ONE SONG! I mean, if you shop lifted the entire CD you would only be fined $2,500, but I wouldn’t recommend that either!

Have you ever seen those ads at the beginning of your DVDs that say, “You wouldn’t download a car would you?”  Well, there are people who view piracy like this. Although, if I made an exact copy of your car for myself, leaving yours untouched and in the same exact spot I found it; would I be stealing your car? The answer to that is…completely left up to you.  You see what I mean? Grey areas…

The RIAA and MPAA have been known to unleash infected and corrupted files into P2P networks.  It’s their little, “screw you” to us and it’s actually pretty genius on their part. What better way to deter pirates then to infect them with computer crippling scabies? It also ensures that a nasty bug is going to spread like termites in a beaver dam, because it’s going from one person to another via file sharing. Remember when you installed that P2P file sharing program and your antivirus popped up asking if you want to allow the program to do this or that? Well, you allowed it and chances are no infection will be caught until it’s too late or not at all. Now you know this wouldn’t be a “Bo article” if computer infections weren’t mentioned. What’s worse is the RIAA and MPAA aren’t even your biggest problem; they’re just the tip of the iceberg. The fact is, there are thousands of people out there who exploit file sharing.  Granted, most of the P2P programs are much safer than what they used to be but…say it with me,” nothing is 100%”; especially, when you are literally opening the door to your firewall and saying, “C’mon in!” Sure, these P2P programs have “safe folders” that tell you files will only be downloaded to there but what they fail to say is that the safe folder has backdoors that John Hacker knows how to open.  I mean, it’s not called a “Trojan Horse” because it’s got a nice ring to it.  It’s designed to look safe and when you’re not looking the baddies come pouring out.

It isn’t important which side of this topic I stand on, because honestly, If you want to give your PC digital herpes that’s your thing. What I do care about is educating you on technology, and of course, computer infections.  P2P file sharing is fast, easy and it’s free but it’s also dangerous in many different ways.  Could you imagine, if you got caught and went to prison, what the conversation with your cell mate might be like? “What are you in for?”  I kilt my wife fer not puttn’ mustard on my biscuits, mhmm, you? “uhhh, I downloaded the theme song from Shaft.”  I assure you, even if you base jump Burj Khalifa in Dubai and drink Dos Equis, it still won’t be the best day ever.  So, when you decide whether or not you want to use “free”, a nice rule of thumb I use is this – if its copy written and free, then chances are you’re going to end up paying for it one way or another.

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