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What is online infringement of copyright, and how does it work

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6 Pages
English

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What is online infringement of copyright, and how does it work

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Language English

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DIGITAL ECONOMY BILL
ONLINE INFRINGEMENT OF COPYRIGHT:
THE DETAILS
DECEMBER 2009
What is online infringement of copyright?
There are many forms of online infringement of copyright, including people unlawfully
swapping copyrighted music or films with friends or unlawfully downloading copyrighted
material from particular sites. The majority of the clauses in the Bill are particularly intended
to tackle unlawful many-to-many file sharing also known as unlawful file-sharing on peer-to-
peer (P2P). Details about copyright changes in the Bill are available in a separate factsheet
1
How is it used?
.
P2P technology has many legitimate uses – providing opportunities and benefits to Internet
users.
For example, Linux open source software is shared this way, and the music
streaming service Spotify is also based on P2P.
Academic and research institutions use it to
send very large files. It is not the intention to interfere with such use or to create barriers to
the legitimate use of this technology. However, it does enable users to share information that
they are not entitled to share – for example, by sharing software or audiovisual materials
without permission, in breach of copyright law.
How does it work?
The software typically used in file-sharing was developed in order to allow people to make
the most effective use of computer networks. Rather than relying on a central file server
(people going to a common source which holds millions of files in one place), a P2P
computer network has no central store of files. Instead, it uses a series of ad hoc connections
between participants in a network and the cumulative bandwidth of network participants. This
first took the form of a central file server which acted as “index” and introduced two users
together (one with the content; the other seeking the content). This was the original “Napster”
model (diagram 1). Later, the need for a central index was dropped and P2P networks
became de-centralised (diagram 2). Such networks are used for many purposes - sharing
files (i.e. file-sharing) containing audio, video, data or anything in digital format is very
common, and real-time data, such as telephony traffic, is also passed using P2P technology.
The advantage of a P2P network is that all users provide resources, including bandwidth,
storage space, and computing power. As additional users arrive, and demand on the system
increases, the total capacity of the system also increases. This is not the same for client-
server architecture with a fixed set of servers, where adding more clients could mean slower
data transfer for all users. As there is no one central server, P2P networks are typically more
robust.
Furthermore, as individuals use a number of different connections to download the
(same) information, this avoids bottlenecks.
Many of the most popular file-sharing sites (such as Limewire) use BitTorrent
TM
technology.
This is a protocol (a set of rules and a description of how to do things) which allows users to
download files by allowing those downloading the file to upload parts of it at the same time. It
1
http://interactive.bis.gov.uk/digitalbritain/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Factsheet-Copyright.pdf