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Thursday, October 14, 2004

P2P-ers gone underground

Have all the record industry's lawsuits really helped reduce file-sharing? A little bit, but they've also sent lots of tune-swappers underground, PC World reports. By "underground," the article means to smaller, lesser-known services than Kazaa, whose numbers have gone from a peak of 30 million to about 18 million (e.g., BitTorrent nearly doubled in users between 11/03 and 5/04 and eMule almost tripled between 2/03 and 2/04). Besides lower risk of detection for their users, these smaller services are more attractive than Kazaa because they offer faster downloading. They "use an advanced technique called 'swarming,' in which portions of files are downloaded from multiple sources and immediately offered to the network." File-sharers have also moved to the good ol' Usenet newsgroups that were around long before Napster, the first P2P service, arrived on the scene. Newsgroups are "a vast reservoir of music, movies, and software, at connection speeds that can put the better-known P-to-P services to shame," according to PC World. Fueling Usenet's new-found popularity is free and easy-to-use software like the Xnews reader (see if it's on your family PC), which makes newsgroups file-sharing more reliable than the P2P services. The downside is, Usenet's more public and trackable than, say, BitTorrent. The article also touches on Microsoft's Digital Rights Management software and includes sidebars on anti-piracy legislation in the works to software file-sharing.


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