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The secret truths of File Sharing
By Matthew M., Grade 10, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

Internet, Peers, Network, Files, Illegal.

All words to describe File Sharing.

It is funny how record companies say they are acting in the best interests of their artists, but are they really?

Many of you have probably downloaded something off of the internet. Whether it be a music file, picture, piece of software in any form, it is file sharing. I know I sure have.

The internet is continuously growing, with easier access, and very few regulations. The practice of file sharing has continued to grow through the last few years, and even with the controversy over file sharing, it is one of the biggest online activities, next to online gaming and Instant Messaging. But what has made this controversial activity grow?

The obvious answer would have to be convenience. All you have to do is log on to the internet, type in what you're looking for and click on it. Compare this to hoping in your car and driving to the nearest record store, or computer store to pick up the latest CD or game.

In recent years, there has been a huge debate over file sharing. Is it illegal? Is it a form of copyright infringement? What exactly is it? File is defined in computer terms, as a grouping of bytes or data that output something via a computer. Sharing is defined as distributing something over a network, or the internet to other people. Put them together and you have a definition for File Sharing, The distribution of data over a network or the internet. Which is a true definition of what it is today. A few examples of file sharing networks are, Kazaa, WinMX, and IRC or Internet Relay Chat for those of you who maybe unfamiliar with it. These all have one thing in common, the sharing of files on these networks. This activity is said to be illegal by large record labels, and software companies. In the past year the one that had made the most ruches would have to be music files. Which is the bigger of the two problems it seems.

But lets look at a few facts about file sharing for a second. First file sharing has been around for a while in a few different forms. A good example of this would have to be lending a movie to a friend; it's a great example of file sharing in one of its oldest forms. You lend a movie to a friend, so they can watch it. They didn't buy it but they are still viewing it for free. Which in a sense could be considered a copyright law violation.

Now why is downloading music such a big deal with record companies? Let's look at a few things first. When a CD is sold, most of the profits from it go to the record company, the band or artist who wrote the album gets a fairly small amount of that 15 or 25 dollars you paid for the CD. In fact they usually only get between 15 cents and $1.15 for each copy sold. That is part of the reason record companies are complaining so much about downloading music, that's where they make their money. Artists make most of their money off of tours and concerts as they are done by the band, to promote their music. So, are the music companies really acting in their artist's best interests? Like it seems? It may seem like it on the surface, but once you dig down through the surface, they are really just trying to keep the money rolling in so they can keep their wallets bursting at the seams.

What is the music industry doing to try and take care of this so called problem? The Recording Industry Association of America better known as the RIAA, has been putting law suits against those of the file sharing industry who are the major distributors, and downloaders of music from networks such as Kazaa and WinMX. But don't fear they only have the ability to do this in the US. But the Canadian Recording Industry may be following suit soon, from pressure from the RIAA and record labels.

With only a few countries looking into whether file sharing is illegal or not, file sharing will be with us for a while to come, so don't expect it to just die out next week. In fact one day it might be how we get our software, music, and movies. It's how some movie theaters get their movies, so it may be closer then we think to legal home use.

Although I am discussing the sharing of music files online, it is not the only type of file sharing. There are other forms of file sharing, such as warez (illegal copies of software), and movie piracy. Both are growing each and every day. Both of these I am strongly opposed to.

I hope you have learned some things about file sharing that you may not have known before. I also hope you have learned some things that the recording industry may not want you to know.


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