Gnutella itself is legal. There is no law against sharing public domain files. It's when people use Gnutella to distribute copyrighted music and films that its use becomes illegal. This is the problem that got Napster in trouble. The music industry is officially upset about Gnutella, but there is currently no easy way to control it.
Attacking the Gnutella architecture is one way to disrupt file-sharing activities. There are currently two approaches being used:
- Overloading the Gnutella network with a flood of bogus search packets.
- Filling Gnutella servers with corrupted files.
Gnutella's many developers have adapted to problems in the past, so it is probable that new software can work around these threats and keep the files flowing.
The debate at the moment is how much financial damage file-sharing actually causes. Is a shared file a theft, or is it a form of free advertising and exposure just like airtime on the radio is?
For more information on file sharing and related topics, including some different perspectives on the legality of sharing copyrighted music, check out the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
More Great Links
- MTV.com: Recording Industry Sues 32 Students For Illegal File-Sharing - 10/04
- New Wave of Illegal File Sharing Lawsuits Brought By RIAA - 4/04
- Tom's Hardware Guide: Survey: Music file sharing on the decrease - 4/04
- WiredNews: Roxio Buys Pressplay, Napster Lives - 5/03
- NewScientist.com: "Random walkers" may speed peer-to-peer networks - 7/02
- Gnutella.com: Labels Planning Legal Attack on Individuals? - 7/02
- Gnutella.com: Hollywood Wants to Plug the "Analog Hole" - 5/02
- P2P.com: Gnutella and Freenet Represent True Technological Innovation - 5/00