Does This Mean I Actually Have to Buy My Music Now?
For millions of people, downloading music and movies illegally is just a way of life. Whether it is to save money or the mere convenience of the matter, millions of people around the globe resort to illegal downloading on a day to day basis. While many individuals grew up using Napster, the fact is that Napster was truly only the tip of the iceberg in the realm of P2P file sharing. For those unfamiliar with the term “P2P,” it simply stands for a “peer-to-peer” sharing protocol (hence the creative acronym) that enables people who are connected with each other through their computer systems to distribute large amounts of data over the internet. From the inception of Napster, P2P websites have grown exponentially over the years, and some studies have estimated that these peer-to-peer networks account for approximately 43% to 70% of all internet traffic. As stated above, the problem is that much of this information is being shared illegally, and thus, there has been a major pushback from authorities all over the world, most notably, the United States Department of Justice.
To see the “pushback” one needs to look no further than to the recent controversy surrounding the shutdown of one of the largest file sharing services, MegaUpload. Not even three months ago the founders of MegaUpload were arrested in one of the biggest charges of copyright infringement that the legal world has ever seen. The founders were charged with “enabling $500 millions of illegal downloads of films, music and other content through the MegaUpload site” and could face up to 20 years in prison. This lawsuit not only affects the founders of MegaUpload, but has sent shockwaves throughout the entire P2P community.
One recent event which illustrated such effects was the voluntary shut down of BTjunkie, a P2P site which was ranked among the top five most frequented torrent sites on the internet. Just a few weeks ago visitors of the popular file-sharing website were surprisingly greeted with a message that read: “This is the end of the line my friends. The decision was not easy, but we’ve decided to voluntarily shut down.” [Link no longer available.] With the high fines and long prison sentences that could come with the MegaUpload lawsuit, P2P users may be seeing these types of messages pop up more frequently in the future. In fact, an unnamed BTjukie founder stated the legal actions taken against other file-sharing sites such as MegaUpload “played an important role in making the difficult decision.”
Although users may be annoyed at the actions taken by BTjunkie, one really cannot blame them for their preemptive actions, as who truly wants to ever set foot in a prison, never mind having to call it “home” for 20 years of your life. What the actions of BTjunkie say for the future of P2P file-sharing websites is still a mystery, as some sites such as The Pirate Bay have maintained service by moving from a .org to a .se domain name to avoid the reach of U.S. officials. Whether users will ever have to say RIP to P2P is still unknown, but what we do know is that BTjunkie is gone, and it is never coming back.