Do you enjoy sharing files online? Using a P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing program is an increasingly common online practice for many. By using a file sharing program, users can download books, digital magazines, music, movies, videos, and software. Although the technology is amazing and convenient, many misuse the sharing system, downloading music and other media illegally. File sharing in itself is not illegal though. Rather, uploading or downloading content for free when it is not actually free is prohibited by law.
To avoid file sharing illegally, you can follow three simple steps: Only upload content that you have the right to share. Next, make sure to download content that is legal for downloading. Finally, make sure to use file sharing sources that are reputable and trustworthy. Most trustworthy sources will offer paid memberships and written warnings about downloading or uploading copyrighted content.
But for many, the temptation to get something for nothing is just too great to ignore. Remember the old adage, “Nothing in life is free”? Well that’s especially true when it comes to files you download for free on the Internet.
To better understand the danger involved with file sharing, just think of what file sharing means. Remember, P2P means that you are peer to peer - one person to another. On the other side of the file share, however, may be a “peer” that may make you a little uncomfortable. When you download a file, it may not always be from a reputable source. Consider the popular site Limewire. After the popular file sharing site Napster was shut down and prevented from offering free (and illegal) downloads, Limewire became the next go-to source for those who chose to ignore copyright infringement laws. If you visit the site now, you’ll immediately see this message:
LimeWire is under a court order dated October 26, 2010 to stop distributing the LimeWire software. A copy of the injunction can be found here. LimeWire LLC, its directors and officers, are taking all steps to comply with the injunction. We have very recently become aware of unauthorized applications on the internet purporting to use the LimeWire name. We demand that all persons using the LimeWire software, name, or trademark in order to upload or download copyrighted works in any manner cease and desist from doing so. We further remind you that the unauthorized uploading and downloading of copyrighted works is illegal. If you have downloaded LimeWire software in the past, files on your personal computers containing private or sensitive information may have been inadvertently shared and you should use your best efforts to remove the software from your computers.
Sites that allow users to ignore copyright laws are dangerous ground for honest users, but a favorite haunt of the disreputable. In the recent past, Limewire was a very popular site for a most unexpected but dangerous user – the crystal meth addict. By hacking into the computers of Limewire users, addicts would steal as much personal information as possible and open fraudulent bank accounts with newly created (fake) IDs. After writing thousands of dollars of bad checks to support their habit, they would move on to the next unsuspecting victim, leaving the legal mess for someone else to clean up.
Let Limewire be a lesson for those who love file sharing – not every peer you share with has your best interests at heart.