File Sharing on the Internet
When we think of pirates, we see scruffy men with unshaven chins, a bandana, a gold earing, a black patch on one eye, and a wooden leg, men with guns in hand, riding the seas in their wooden ship proudly flying the terrifying skull and crossbones. Well, pirates these days look much different. In fact, you may be sitting by one right now. They are ordinary people who have come to enjoy the technologies the Internet provides. These pirates are boys and girls, women and men, who habitually root themselves in their desk chairs with eyes fixed on the computer screen. But today's pirates have something in common with the pirates of days lost in history. Both steal what doesn't belong to them. Today's pirates sail the Internet on the prowl for a treasure chest of downloadable files.
In the age of technology and information, the Internet has become widely used for a variety of reasons. I, like many other college and high school students, love to download things off the Internet. Everything is right there in front of me. With a few clicks of the mouse and some intelligent searching strategies, a world of information awaits my curious mind. There's much to be found: movies, computer games, books, reference guides, almost anything you want is there to download. My favorite thing to download is music, and it's easily accessible on the Internet. I admit I am one of those who indulges in the popular practice of downloading music from servers. At first, the hot thing was to use Napster. If I heard a good song on the radio, I would remember what it was called and who sang it so that I could download the song and have it available to hear whenever I wanted. After a while, record companies realized that this was causing them to lose business, and so there was a big court mess about the legality of Napster. Ultimately it ceased being a free source of music. Now there are a few other popular servers, like Gnutella, Morpheus, and Kazaa. The legality of these sites and all sites like it is hotly debated.
In order to limit exchanging music, record companies want to make hardware and software to prevent music from being copied. But this would prevent people from copying their own music. That means no making CD mixes or putting music from your CDs on the computer, which is all perfectly legal. A handful of CDs already have certain features that prohibit the CD from being played on the computer and thereby prohibit the CD from being copied. There are many legitimate reasons for someone to copy their CDs, however. First, instead of taking a whole bunch of CDs when I go somewhere, I'd rather just take copies in case I would lose any. Second, how many times have you scratched a CD? Too many to count, no doubt, and by being able to copy your CDs, you don't have to worry about not being able to listen to the CD just because you accidentally scratched it. CDs are valuable items and thieves will gladly take them if they can, but if...