Peer-to-peer(P2P) file sharing is the process through which music or software canbe downloaded or shared between computers by the use of a P2Psoftware. The P2P software, on the other hand, is a file sharingsoftware that enables users to connect with other computers withsimilar configuration, and share contents in order to transfer orshare electronic content. The P2P software is legal and ethical aslong as it is used to share materials with the authorization ofcopyright holder. It is, therefore, illegal, and unethical todownload music or software from a P2P network without the permissionof the copyright holder, which forms the basis of this discussion.
AP2P software is file sharing software enabling users with thesoftware to share contents between the computers (Allen, Shepherd, &Roberts, 2010). The software also allows the connection of computerswith a similar configuration to enable downloads and the transfer ofelectronic contents. The P2P file sharing application make itpossible for computers to connect to a P2P network, which onceconnected allow the download and sharing of files Examples of suchsoftware include BearShare, eDonkey, eMule, KaZaA, Morpheus,Limewire, and BitTorrent (Allen, Shepherd, & Roberts, 2010). AP2P software is an application that enables the connection of acomputer to a P2P and after that allowing downloading and sharing offiles with other users with similar software. The computer networksmostly apply P2P software for the purposes of reproduction anddistribution of copyrighted music, pictures, television shows, andsoftware (Allen, Shepherd, & Roberts, 2010).
Theuse of P2P software has made the transfer and download of electroniccontents and software easier and efficient. The efficiency stems fromthe fact that the use of P2P file sharing procedures can enable anindividual access a wealth of information. The P2P technology allowsdifferent users to share processing power, information, data, anddownloads. The proper use of the technology is usually beneficial tothe end users provided it is used correctly. The use of P2P filesharing has become controversial with questions being raised aboutlegality and ethicality of its use. It should be clear that the useof P2P file sharing is legal and ethical in almost all states in theworld. Provided the information being downloaded or shared does notresult in the infringement of the rights of the copyright holder, aP2P file sharing remains legal and ethical (Allen, Shepherd, &Roberts, 2010). There are, however, instances in which the use of P2Pnetwork to download music or software is illegal and unethical andpossesses a number of risks if practiced. For example, the use of P2Psoftware could result in the download of viruses, pornographicmaterials, or downloads of copyright-protected materials. It is alsopossible for an individual to mistakenly permit other individuals tocopy files, which you had no intention of sharing. It should also beunderstood that this may be practiced unknowingly and cannot betermed as unethical. It, however, remains illegal and could result inrisks because it remains a punishable offense by the law.
Unethicalityof the use of P2P software
TheP2P software is a legal practice with various legal and ethical uses.It is, however, unfortunate that people use it for unauthorizedtransfer and downloading of copyright-protected materials such asmusic and software. Most of such materials and software have theprotection of the copyright laws. Most of the P2P software usersdisregard the protection and such materials and software without thepermission of the copyright holders. This practice is unethical andillegal.
Tobe unethical implies an unwillingness to follow the proper set rulesof conduct. Downloading music or software from a P2P network withoutthe permission of the copyright holder is, therefore, unethical. Thereason behind this proposition is that the intellectual property andthe internet explicitly instruct that P2P software is only safe andappropriate to use in the instances in which the copyright holder hasauthorized the download and sharing of contents through suchplatform. The situation in which an individual chooses to downloadmusic or software without the consent of the copyright holder showsan inability to follow the set rules of conduct, and thusunethicality.
Thereare increasing cases of infringement of the internet intellectualproperty rights. Through the internet, it has become increasinglyeasy for individuals to access free software and steal other people’sresources through the internet. The P2P software being a readilyavailable means for sharing and downloading contents from theinternet has in most cases been used inappropriately. People have thecapability to download software through the use of P2P technologywhich would have been otherwise inaccessible in the absence of thesoftware. People have been able to download and share informationwithout the authorization of the copyright holder through the use ofthe P2P platform (Allen, Shepherd, & Roberts, 2010). Suchpractice is unethical because people who are engaging in such causean infringement of the intellectual rights of the internet thatprovide that intellectual property owners have rights that should berespected.
Thefact that being caught downloading or sharing copyright-protectedcontent without the consent of the owner results in punishment forthe culprits shows that it is illegal to practice such acts. Thereare many instances in which people are subjected to fines for songsand software shared and downloaded without the authority of theowner. In most cases, such sharing and downloading is through the P2Psoftware technique that is now readily available to a majority of thepeople. Although not all people who are engaging in such unlawfulsharing and downloading do it intentionally, it remains a punishableoffense. People are in most cases ignorant and making assumptionsthat because the software or the internet content is available, it isfree to take advantage of. This does not make the process legal orethical. The fact that such practices are not as per the standard setby the intellectual property rights make the use of P2P software todownload software or share information without the consent of thecopyright holder unethical.
Challengesfacing the determination of legality and ethicality of the use of theP2P software
Althoughthere are rules and regulations set to ensure legitimacy in the useof P2P software, some instances are challenging in the quest todetermine the same. Although some cases merely imply infringement ofthe intellectual property rights, they may be hard to determinewhether they are legal and ethical or are illegal and unethical, thuswarranting punishment. For instance, there are ambiguousinterpretations of the copyright laws, the rapid development of newtechniques, and development of the sharing methods that leave noevidence that sharing and downloads have taken place (Allen,Shepherd, & Roberts, 2010). The copyright holders should be up todate with the technological advancements to ensure that they are safeand protected from the illegal and unethical practices through P2Psoftware.
AP2P software is in its full use legal and ethical as long as it isused in the appropriate way. This is possible as long as the use ofthe software has the authority of the copyright holder. Instances inwhich the software is used to share and download software without theauthorization of the copyright holder result in infringement of theintellectual property rights. This in turn implies that the use ofthe P2P software in such instances is illegal and unethical. Peoplemaking use of the P2P software should be keen to understand the rulesthat work alongside it to avoid being punished from using itinappropriately. The copyright holders in turn too should be up todate and clear with their intellectual rights to ensure that thosepracticing P2P file sharing inappropriately are punished.
Allen,P., Shepherd, K., & Roberts, L. (2010). Peer-to-PeerFile-Sharing. InternationalJournal of Technoethics. 1(4), 49-64