Sep 26 2005

File Sharing Is Not Illegal

Published by at 10:47 am under Technology

This is an old article and the information contained within it may be out of date, not reflect my current views and/or contain broken links. If you feel this article is still valid and requires updating, you can use the contact form to let me know. However, I make no guarantee that it will get updated.

It seems that International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) is stepping up its efforts to prevent people advancing internet technologies. In their latest move the IFPI has released a piece of software called Digital File Check which scans a users computer and deletes any copies of file-sharing (BitTorrent, Kazaa, Limewire, etc.) that it finds.

Their reasons for doing this is because (I’m making assumptions here as they haven’t responded to my email) they believe that file-sharing software can only be used to share illegal pirated music, software and films.

Whilst the idea is, in principle, quite simple: “No sharing software – no pirating”, they really couldn’t be further from the truth. There are several points which they have missed, which they really should think about:

  • File sharing is not just about priating music/films. There is a vast range of material out there which is not copyrighted.
  • Any internet protocol can be used for transfering pirated material: email, http, ftp, gopher, etc. Therefore Digital File Check will not stop pirating.
  • If the artists are concerned that pirating means they’ll get less money then they should seriously think about the share of the pie that the record company executives are taking.

There really is no point in the record & film industries telling people you can’t do this and you can’t do that with out giving a viable alternative as to what they CAN do. One way in which, I think, the record industry could receive a pat on the back is if they were to produce their own file sharing software. The software would have to be as fast and efficient as other software out there, it would have to be able to restrict pirated material whilst also allowing non-copyrighted material to pass unhindered.

One thing that I thought would have become fairly obvious to the record & film industries is that technology is not going to stand still. We are now firmly entering the information age and one of the basic pricipals is the free flowing of information… digital information. People are willing and capable of developing methods of shifting data. If one method of shifting data gets blocked you can bet that another, more efficient method is just around the corner.

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