Written by Lane Hill
Megaphone Web Editor
Just to make it clear, I am not against pirating of digital copies of anything, as that would be hypocritical of me, but I am against Limewire and all the other nefarious peer-to-peer networking programs.
Limewire, Frostwire, KaZaa, Cabos, KaZaa Lite, Old Napster, Bearshare.
All of these programs accomplish the same thing – they allow you to download files from other people’s computers, using the peer-to-peer protocol, a throwback from old-timey days of the Internet where BBSs rule the land.
They’ve come under fire for allowing copious amounts of stolen music, software and movies.
They’ve also recently tapered out due to the popularity of the BitTorrent protocol – Napster is now legit and sells music. KaZaa isn’t around anymore. So far, the most popular one of these programs is LimeWire.
However, what’s funny is that most of these programs use the same network – meaning the content is the same no matter what program you use. This can be both good or bad.
It’s similar to walking to a McDonald’s in Detroit and knowing you’ll probably get the same crappy food as a McDonald’s in Texas. No matter what program you use, the quality of information on the network itself is the same.
It is also bad as lots of pornography, child pornography, videos showing bestiality, viruses, computer trojans and internet dialers exist on these networks, with no central way on removing them, as the files depend on the users willing to share them.
There is no “central server,” no operating base. Thus, no easy way to remove those files.
Furthermore, some of these bad files masquerade as perfectly good videos, music and programs.
A common video that circulated around the Gnutella network, which is what Limewire, KaZaa and many other P2P programs used, was a video showing a woman having sex with a horse that was titled “HA HA VERY FUNNY.wmv.”
The exact same video was later circulated as “Brittany Spears Illicit Sex video.mpg.”
There are viruses and trojans bundled up with “SimCity_3_with_Crack.zip” and even “1001 Hot Pictures.zip.”
As a result, when you bring your laptop/computer to some sort of tech support, we have a conundrum. Obviously, the problem with your computer is because you downloaded something bad, and it’s choking on your antivirus.
Do we tell you it’s because of your own stupidity or do we blame it on the software itself, which isn’t exactly fair because you downloaded “Crysis.exe” even though it was only 50 KB?
Now, that’s where I tell you if you were going to continue with your illegal act, to use BitTorrent instead.
BitTorrent, and its many clients, are like P2P networks, except for four big differences: first of all, it’s more anonymous then P2P networks, where most require you to pick a name, as that’s your identity for downloading files.
BitTorrent networks rely more on your IP address, which for the most part is hidden. No one can really type in your identity and see what files you have.
Second, instead of downloading one file from one person, you download one file in parts from multiple people.
This make things go much faster, obviously, and has an advantage in the fact that you can pick and choose what files you want to download and which you do not – meaning that if you are downloading (note that I don’t condone this) the entire Beatles discography and you already have three of their albums, you can simply skip those three albums you’ve already bought. While in P2P networks, you have to download that entire discography, plus a couple of viruses.
Third, there is a central command station – sort of. To search for torrents, you have to go to a “torrent tracker,” where you’re able to search for anything you desire.
These trackers usually have comments, by users on various torrents. Meaning that if you really hoped “1001 Pictures of Boats.zip” was really 1001 pictures of various boats, you can simply check out the comments and see what they say.
Plus trackers often delete the access of torrents from their site if they contain any computer viruses or trojans. If they don’t, users will probably let you know that it has a virus or a trojan, as they probably got one themselves. You don’t have this privilege with P2P networks.
Fourth, there is an actual, legitimate use for torrents! For instance, you can download various amounts of Linux distributions using torrents. Many sites where you can download software from now give the option to download using a torrent client. Meanwhile, P2P clients really have no legitimate use besides downloading illegal materials.
Go download Azureus or uTorrent and give it a try, and delete the handcuffs and oppression that Limewire and its ilk provide.
But in closing, I wanted to say that if you were going to ignore my advice, and keep on using P2P networks, at least have some form of antivirus so just in case anything happens, you can (hopefully) fix it.
ITS provides a free copy of Sophos on its website, and there are numerous free ones available, so cost should not be an issue.
Would you not wear a condom if you were going to buy the services of a harlot on the street? Would you not wear a glove if you were going to dissect a cat?