The Ethics of File Sharing Software Essay

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The Ethics of File Sharing Software

Introduction The purpose of this paper is to discuss the ethical problem that file sharing software creates when used to transfer copy written material. It is contested that the very existence of this software promotes piracy. The paper will focus on the creators of the file sharing software, knowing that the user employs their product illegally. The software creators (Kazaa, Grokster, Morpheus, etc) are claiming that they cannot control what the end user does with its product. In fact, this point has been upheld by a recent court ruling.

As music and movies are now available almost exclusively in digital formats (CD and DVDs), the ease of copying them to computers is easy. And
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This was the entire concept behind the Napster model.

This approach worked great and made fantastic use of the Internet's architecture. By spreading the load for file downloading across millions of machines, Napster accomplished what would have been impossible any other way. The central database for song titles was Napster's Achilles' heel. When the court ordered Napster to stop the music, the absence of a central database killed the entire Napster network. With Napster gone, what you had at that point was something like 100 million people around the world hungry to share more and more files. It was only a matter of time before another system came along to fill the gap.[ii]

Napster made downloading music over the Internet common practice. Since the Federal Government closed Napster, several new alternatives for file sharing have been creates. Kazaa, Morpheus, Gnutella all rely on peer-to peer networking rather than a central server. Copyrighted materials continue to be distributed through peer-to-peer file sharing, but these systems are more difficult to shut down due to their decentralized control. Unlike Napster, which relied on central file servers, most new systems use a decentralized approach that relies on the local networks and computer resources of individual users. The peer-to-peer approach to file sharing requires cooperation among users and depends on the central processing unit (CPU), memory, and network

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