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Part I: Today’s Technology > Sharing Images, Audio, and Video over the Web: Kaz...

Chapter 23. Sharing Images, Audio, and Video over the Web: Kazaa

Internet file sharing is a way for Internet users to exchange various types of computer files, and it typically uses what is known as a peer-to-peer architecture. The concept of peer-to-peer computing was popularized by companies such as Napster, with their controversial file-sharing community for the exchange of MP3 music files. Recent entrants in the post-Napster world have included Kazaa, BearShare, WinMX, LimeWire, and many others.

Each of these companies offer a way for Internet users to exchange media files with one another by sharing file folders on their desktops and using software that enables distributed searching and downloading. The controversy around these types of services arises because users are able to share files for which they do not own the copyright; therefore, they are violating the rights of the original artists and the recording companies. This profile aims to explain the concept behind peer-to-peer and describe the operation of a typical file-sharing Web site such as Kazaa for users who intend to use these services in a manner that does not breach the rights of the copyright owners. One warning about some of these consumer-oriented sites is that they often include spyware and mandatory programs that must be installed. There is also potential for downloading files infected with viruses. It’s worth reading the fine print prior to installing any of these programs, and you should ask friends and colleagues about their own experiences before deciding to proceed.


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