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P2 P File Sharing Essay

3544 words - 14 pages

P2P File-Sharing

INTRODUCTION

Technology is moving at an ever-increasing rate, which faces us with many new issues as we move into a digital age. Gone are the days where property and transactions were physically tangible. A medium of an electronic nature is now today’s preferred choice as opposed to traditional means. This new electronic medium is hardly tangible yet it is becoming more pervasive in our lives. So what exactly are some of these technologies and issues associated with them? This paper will look into both the domestic and the international issues associated with MP3 and Peer-to-Peer technologies over the Internet. So what started the big fuss associated with Peer-to-Peer technologies like Napster? We will begin by looking at the original motivation behind Internet file sharing software. Enter MP3.

The MP3 Craze

The term MP3 is now a household name. The technology is widely known and can be found in a multitude of software as well as in dedicated playback devices. However, MP3s were not widely known until 1998 when a free windows based player named Winamp was released 1. Lets take a brief look at how MP3s came to be.

MP3 is shorthand for MPEG-Layer 3, which stands for the Moving Picture Experts Group, Audio Layer III 1. The MP3 compression algorithm was developed by the Fraunhofer Institut in Erlangen, Germany during the mid-1980s 1. For those who are not already familiar with the technology, MP3 encoding essentially compresses a large sound file into a much smaller file with little noticeable sound degradation. Standard compression reduces the size of a sound file by ten times, which results in files that are approximately 1 MB per minute 2. This proved to be a powerful tool, especially as the Internet was booming.

MP3 is now the audio standard of the web 3. An important reason is because originally, the patent holders made it free for developers to make MP3 encoders, decoders, and players, whereas the use of alternative audio formats require paying royalties to their respective owners 3. With MP3 software, users could easily create their own MP3 files and listen to them on their computers. A revolutionary new seed had been planted in the already blossoming Internet. Now how can people with MP3 exchange songs with others?

The Search Begins, The Power of P2P
Up until this point, we have several pieces of the puzzle. First, there is the Internet, on which millions of users worldwide are interconnected. Second, the invention of MP3 encoding of audio files as discussed above. Now to complete the puzzle, the next logical step was to solve the problem of how users can find and exchange MP3 files over the Internet.

A now infamous program named Napster presented the solution users were looking for. Napster used a form of peer-to-peer architecture, or P2P, to provide an easy way for users to search out other users and exchange songs. The term peer-to-peer refers to an architecture where each workstation has...

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