File sharing/Overview

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See also: File

File sharing is literally that -- one person sharing files to another. File Sharing, like the internet, it is a truly global phenonemon unbounded by language. A great many methods have been created over the years: BBS, FTP, IRC, WWW, Gnutella, OpenNap. Heck, people used to carve up software to fit onto multiple floppies and then mailed them!

Even though it's gone, Napster is still synonymous with file sharing. Now Napster is just one example in a long line of similar clients. "File" doesn't necessarily mean only "mp3", and some networks and programs have been designed around sharing only such as movies or pictures. The use of p2p file sharing software is usually restricted in the workplace not only because of security concerns but also because of the threat of lawsuits and lost productivity.

There are several major topics surrounding file sharing. Of them, the two primary pulls are the benefits and drawbacks of Centralization vs Decentralization and Privacy / Anonymity, especially vs copyright protection and file-sharing legality. As well as the problem of spyware, a method for the companies that produce peer-to-peer programs to make money on their product. It is these pulls which have defined several themes of software.

In the early days, client software was protocol-specific, so a user had "Napster" clients, and you had "Gnutella" clients. There is an everpresent push towards making the GUI-side of things capable of using multiple protocols. After all, why should a user have to load up several different apps to do what is, in their mind, the same thing?

While file sharing can be haphazard with downloads suffering delays or interuptions and other random anomalies including malicious code, lost data, fake files, corrupted and partial files, it is still popular.

Indeed it appears that file sharing is constantly developing as it grows. According to "The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales An Empirical Analysis" by Felix Oberholzer and Koleman Strumpf, "During the fall 2002 the largest network was FastTrack which grew from 2.5 million to 3.5 million simultaneous users over September to December 2002. On FastTrack there were typically more than 500 million files holding 5 Petabytes of data available at any time". Today there are multiple networks operating at similar levels.

Some people have noted it is very possible that file sharing will stem the growth of small artists, lead to lost jobs and less sales tax revenue, bankrupt small businesses and reduce rates of publication.

... Continue to Abstract.

Essays:

Overview, Abstract, Getting to the point, Model for file sharing