Sharing files using peer-to-peer (P2P) software is efficient. But if you misuse P2P software, you expose yourself to the following risks:
Among these risks, the consequence of infringing copyright can be the most serious. On one hand, the act of unauthorized uploading of a copyright works for others to download may attract civil or even criminal sanctions. On the other hand, unauthorized downloading of copyright works entails civil liability. If you are not sure about the copyright ownership of the files, you should not perform any uploading or downloading of these files.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is the direct transfer of files from one computer to another without going through a server. When using P2P software, it is not necessary for users to upload files that they want to share onto a server. Instead, what they need to do is simply to store files in a specified folder in their computers, and then connect the folder to the Internet through the use of P2P software. The files are then available for other online users who have installed the same P2P software to download. In this way, sharing/downloading of files can be done without the intervention of a centralised server as in the client/server configuration.
Besides, P2P software also allows its users to contribute their computer power and available bandwidth to facilitate file distribution. In other words, the greater the number of people participating in the file sharing activities, the more efficient the downloading process would be.
The commonly used peer-to-peer file sharing software programs are BitTorrent, eDonkey, emule, KaZaA, WinMX, etc.
The process of P2P file sharing can be illustrated by the following diagram:
You may have heard of a lawsuit case in Hong Kong in which a citizen was convicted of copyright infringement for his use of BitTorrent in putting copyrighted movies onto the network, and this has been a world news. For more details, please visit: