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"Peer To Peer File Sharing Networks" This Paper Outlines The History Of P2 P File Sharing Networks Such As Napster, Gnutella And Kazaa, And Discusses Their Impact On Society And The Music Industry.

3226 words - 13 pages

The P2P File Sharing NetworkRobert MarcellinoCLST 311 Spring 2010Peer-to-peer file sharing networks (or "P2P" networks) are Internet networks which allow users with the same P2P networking program to connect with each other and utilize search functions to directly access and download files from one another's hard drives. The nodes (or peers) function as both suppliers and consumers of shared media, as opposed to traditional client/server relationships in server based networks. Peer-to-peer networks were made popular by file sharing systems such as Napster, GNUtella and Kazaa, and have subsequently redefined the way media is distributed, and most notably turned the music industry on its head. Peer-to-peer file sharing came of age during the dot.com boom and the rise of Napster. Between its debut in 1999 and its eventual failure in 2001, Napster enabled tens of millions of users to easily share MP3-formatted song files with each other. (10)The economic ramifications in regards to money lost by record labels and music distributors have brought about a great deal of legal pressure on these "pirate networks." Castells says there are three central characteristics of the new economy we are experiencing: it is informational, it is global and most importantly, it is networked. (1) He also describes negative reactions to a network society, including the manifestation of a "global criminal economy" by those who cannot or will not contribute to something like a global capitalist network, or in this specific case, the music industry. (2) He most likely did not have young music fans who were merely sharing songs over the internet in mind when he talked about a global criminal economy, but in the eyes of the Recording Industry Association of America, this is precisely what it has come to. New file sharing programs and technologies go hand-in-hand with Castells' concept of a networked society, and the emergence of peer-to-peer technology has had a deep effect on the decentralization and distribution of media and other forms of information. History of P2P File Sharing There have been four generations in the evolution of mainstream P2P networks, the first of which was Napster, which in fact was not a true P2P network at all. It worked by users joining and giving the network access to songs on their individual hard drives, and after a central server catalogued all user files, a user could search the database for a particular file, connect with another user who had the desired file, and then download it. This central server model allowed Napster to maintain a degree of control over the network, as well as keep the search functions efficient and user-friendly. However, the central server model ultimately proved to be Napster's downfall. Unlike the many subsequent programs which bypassed the need for a main server, the central server model made Napster vulnerable to legal attacks, which began almost immediately after its rapid explosion in popularity. (3) After the...

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