If you’re like seventy five million other people in the world, at some point you’ve downloaded or uploaded music, videos, and other media from free file sharing networks, also called P2P, or peer-to-peer, networks. These networks, many of which allow you to download their software for free, allow users to share and download all types of media files without having to buy the whole CD, movie, and so forth.
Some of the most popular file sharing networks now are LimeWire, BitTorrent, Kazaa, and Morpheus, with millions of users from around the world logging on every day to share and download media. However, before you rush out and start downloading free file sharing software, there are some things you should be aware of first, including:
The networks could harm your computer.
Oftentimes, these free networks load spyware and adware onto your computer without your knowledge. It then tracks your Internet browsing habits and sends annoying ads, pop-ups, and other things to your computer. In addition, even if the networks themselves don’t have spyware that they use, they can’t guarantee the safety of the millions of files that go through their network each day. So while the free file sharing software you have to download may not have any spyware or viruses on it, the files you download from various sites very well may.
You could get sued.
Not everyone thinks free file sharing networks are a great idea. Many recording industry professionals, from the artists themselves to the executives at the top, argue that sharing music and other media online violates copyright laws. And, the courts will often side with them. In recent years, the RIAA has gone after people who violate these copyright laws, typically those who have shared or downloaded in excess of 1,000 songs, and fined them for thousands of dollars. Anytime you download or share music illegally, you are at risk of this yourself.
Your computer’s performance could suffer.
If you participate in free file sharing, you could haveâ€”literallyâ€”millions of people logging on to your hard drive and your computer every day and downloading your music and media files. In combination with the adware, spyware, and other things free file sharing software loads onto your computer, its overall performance could suffer greatly, becoming slow and sluggish.
You might be sharing files unknowingly.
Some people think they are getting on free file sharing networks just to download music, but in reality, in doing so they are allowing all the other users on the network to access their computer’s files as well. Doing this not only slows your computer and makes you more susceptible to viruses, but it also puts you at risk for copyright violations.
Even with the risks, that’s not to say you should avoid all file sharing software. Just make sure that before you download it, you research and make sure it’s legal to do so. When in doubt, avoid downloading or sharing anything that could put you at risk for copyright violations. Also, you will want to make sure that you have anti-virus software installed and keep it updated to minimize damage to your computer. If you find your computer’s performance is suffering, you will probably want to uninstall the program.
These are just a few of the things you need to know if you are going to participate in fie sharing.