Federal Internet Law & Policy
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Copyright: P2P Music

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Since huge quantities of information can be computer-digitalized and transmitted, music researchers could, for example, swap records over the Net with "essentially perfect fidelity." So much for record stores (in present form). -- Stewart Brand, Spacewar: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums, Rolling Stone (Dec. 1972)

"Peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing allows users to share files online through an informal network of computers running the same software. File-sharing can give you access to a wealth of information, but it also has a number of risks. You could download copyright-protected material, pornography, or viruses without meaning to. Or you could mistakenly allow other people to copy files you don’t mean to share.

P2P has presented a challenge to the DMCA. The DMCA creates a mechanism to protect copyright owners through "Notice and Takedown." Copyright owners provide ISPs notice of copyright material hosted on their service, and the ISPs take it down. The problem P2P creates is that the material is hosted not on the ISPs servers but on the subscribers computers. ISPs cannot very well take down what they do not control. One option ISPs apparently consider in order to "take down" the content is to terminate the account of the subscriber. Copyright owners have been taking advantage of DMCA subpoenas in order to identify P2P users.

"If you’re considering P2P file-sharing:

  • Set up the file-sharing software very carefully, checking the proper settings so that other users won’t have access to your private files.
  • Consider installing anti-spyware software. Some file-sharing programs install spyware that can monitor your browsing habits and send that data to third parties.
  • You may want to adjust the file-sharing program’s controls so that it is not connected to the P2P network all the time. Some file-sharing programs automatically open every time you turn on your computer.
  • Use anti-virus software and a firewall, and keep them up to date. Files you download using a P2P network could be mislabeled, hiding a virus or other unwanted content."

Derived From: OnGuard Online

P2P has become a Network Neutrality issue. AT&T is suggesting that it will start filter its internet traffic in order to filter out infringing copyright material (putting themself in the position of determining what is infringing and what is not). See also Blocking P2P. A number of members of Congress who are big copyright advocates, such as Rep. Mary Bono Mack, support this proposition.

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