Info xge The P2P Way

Updated: Jan 1 2006, 06:50am hrs
Wlcome to the newest world of global predators - addictive as cocaine, contagious as plague and extra-constitutional as bank loan recoverers - these Net buccaneers have already infected over 5 million population globally and "not less than one million just in metro India."

Coming by the name of P2P, which literally means peer-to-peer, this newest internet search and transfer ogre has held in sway in the nine-to-25 age group, which has committed its evenings to personal computers and the exhilarating and lusciously free world, otherwise forbidden.

What this means is that if you have access to broadband or an unlimited cable connection, you can do what you may think is impossible - for one, one can download, absolutely free, anything from hardcore porn to music videos to mobile games to movies to books to software and everything else you were forbidden to.

As an example, a P2P member (membership is free as everything else) needs just five minutes to download Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for free and in any format that may suit his system - MS Word, PDF, plain-text or even as a hand-held device with an audio recording, said to be the unreleased official narration.

Doing this totally illegal social service are the P2P files sharing engines Kazaa, Morpheus, eDonkey, eMule and Aresfile-sharing network called P2P which provides free and easy downloads of everything that may be illegal. Here 'limits', 'corruption' and 'legality' are concepts deleted long back. Even expensive software like Photoshop, Windows XP, Real Player and mobile games are there for the free pick.

While a Google search merely gives you the list of websites from where you can get your desired content, mostly on payment, the P2P actually get you the content from whatever sites without you having to go to those websites, logging in, becoming a member and paying for it.

The crash of 1983

The video game crash of 1983 was the sudden crash of the video game business and the bankruptcy of a number of companies producing home computers and video game consoles in North America in late 1983 and early 1984. It brought an end to what is considered the second generation of console video gaming.
The crash was followed by a gap of three years, during which there was a much smaller market in games for home computers in North America, and no significant development for video game consoles. That gap ended with the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), introduced in 1985 and would break out in popularity in 1987.
Hundreds of games were in development for 1983 release, most of which ended up in bins. But few games were developed in 1983 for release the following year, causing a drought of new video games in 1984.
The video game crash of 1983 was caused by a combination of factors:
Very aggressive marketing of inexpensive home computers, especially the Commodore 64, with the theme Why buy your child a video game and distract them from school when you can buy them a home computer that will prepare them for college Marketing research tracked the change as consumers shifted to low-end computers.
A flood of poor titles, combined with weak high-profile Atari 2600 games based on the film E.T. and the red-hot arcade game Pac-Man.
The news media sensationalised both the boom days of 1980 and the problems of 198283. In particular, the story of Atari burying tons of E.T. cartridges in a New Mexico landfill accelerated the change from The Video Game Boom is Boundless! headlines to The Video Game Boom is Over! proclamations.
The conclusion by key toy retail chains in 1983 that video games were a passing fad and that shelf space should be allocated to new items.

Average software costs for yuor PC would be about Rs 50,000 for them. But for a P2P, it's merely a download to a free software upgrade overnight.

According to Forrester Research, 35 million Europeans have downloaded music from file sharing services. A BigChampagne research says the number of users at any given P2P network was nine million in June 2005, up from just under four million in August 2003. Another research by Cachelogic suggests 10,000,000 GB (or 10 Petabytes) of data is being shared at any point of time. According to it, the worldwide costs of P2P is close to 500 million pounds per annum.

The most alarming trend is that forbidden porn sites get the highest hits. Most porn sites are paid and demand credit/ debit cards for access to their content. But P2P file-sharers get this content as a free download. So, if a nine-year-old has access to Kazaa, he can download any form of erotica.

P2P networks either hack or have tie-ups with porn sites to download pictures and videos to the P2P server.

However, Indias 25 somethings are hardly bothered. Not when something as easy and addictive as www.desitorrents.com is offering almost all new Bollywood releases without a penny. Movies released Friday morning are available on this site the same evening.

Indias Metro Generation Y is clued in to about P2P files sharing, but here are some pearls of wisdom for tech illiterates. File sharing is all about making files available to users for download over the Internet. Usually, file sharing follows the P2P model, where files are stored and served in the users personal computers. Most people who share files are also downloading files that other users share. Sometimes, these activities are linked.

A computer game is usually priced between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,000. However, on the P2P network, all games, including the latest ones released anywhere in the world, are available free.

Mobile operators like Airtel, Hutch charge up to Rs 500 per game download. But with these engines, hundreds of games are in your pocket without a hole - just transfer it from your computer to the mobile through the Bluetooth or infrared technology. Even mobile softwares like MP3 players and Wallets are there for a free pick.

A music CD costs you around Rs 200, inclusive of intellectual property rights, without which it would have cost about Rs 20. But those who do not want to pay for IPRs download it from P2P, for free. In India, Information Technology Act is silent about the drawbacks of the Act. Because of this lacuna, illegal file sharing through P2P has dealt a severe blow to the revenues of the music as well as the film industry. And P2P is such a grey area, that no law is able to trace the origin or path of the shared content.
P2P is here to stay. But yes, it can be curbed with developing innovative means of technology. There should be effective regulation of shared content. In fact the regulations should be in tune with the copyright acts prevalent world over.
India has the worlds biggest music industry. And every bit of music is free on the net. The IT Act of 2000 is still non-existent. So is the Copyright Act of 1957. Matters concerning digital music have not been clarified under the law. There should be deterrents in our acts.
Pawan Duggal is a lawyer specialising in IPR issues.