Fair and Balanced p2p uses
September 16, 2003 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Don't kill p2p because of a few bad eggs Peer-to-peer networks can be used for legal or illegal purposes. So can the telephone, a newspaper or a church's bulletin board. People are responsible for their own actions and there are laws designed to prosecute people for illegal actions.
The legal uses of P2P are rarely heard, because they are not 'sexy' or political. P2P allows artists and listeners to connect directly. The proliferation of unique works created and distributed on the Internet is staggering.
(not the best letter to the editor, but the best I could find)
Ok, so in theory, p2p apps can be used for purposes other than downloading coprighted music and porn. But seriously, does anyone actually use it for legitimate purposes? What do you search for on Kazaa/Gnutella/BitTorrent that is useful, legal, and interesting?
posted by mecran01 (42 comments total)
sharingthegroove.org is a fairly massive community built around (legal) music downloads via BT.
posted by muckster at 8:35 AM on September 16, 2003

amateur porn.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:36 AM on September 16, 2003


posted by angry modem at 8:37 AM on September 16, 2003

The Meta-engine kept stripping the paragraph tag from the original post. Not sure why.
posted by mecran01 at 8:43 AM on September 16, 2003

In the future, just put line breaks in your post. The parser will convert them into HTML line breaks.
posted by vraxoin at 8:45 AM on September 16, 2003

We haven't banned cars due to how many horrible ways people have been hurt by them do we? No! Why not? Because the choice of individuals doesn't necessarily imply the intent of the product or in this case software. Same fucking reason guns are still legal in this country even if they are controlled.

RIAA and their fellow-minded Pimps of The Industry are in dying throes right now. Have been for a while, and every day it shows just how much more desperate they are to hold onto a slipping business model. And when they can't hold it up any more on their own, what do they do.. turn to barratry and litigation!

Sure, let's ban P2P and all the great things that BitTorrent opens up for us all. Imagine an apt-get powered by BitTorrent... i'll never get to realize that fantasy if they have their way. I'll be damned if I'm going to have less toys to play with in my home because some fat cats aren't pulling as many zeros as they once were. Since i'm ranting here; they should really stop producing pop crap that has no staying power and throw the money at the bands that are actually starving, looking for a record deal.

Regardless, they can't do anything about it. Every IP router on the internet would have to have the ability to statefuly scan and decode encryption on arbitrary ports to truly stop P2P. Not going to happen any time soon.

posted by shadow45 at 8:46 AM on September 16, 2003

By creating a large list of legal uses we can provide greater legal justification for the existence of these apps. And learn some Kool Tricks.
posted by mecran01 at 8:49 AM on September 16, 2003

One thing Bittorrent et al are great at is diminishing the slashdot effect. When a downloadable is slashdotted, users can now bittorrent the file and share the bandwidth so that everyone can see the thing in question. Very useful, actually.

And, of course, amateur porn. Amateur pornographers seem to be making the most judicious and profitable use of p2p. Or, you know, so I've heard...
posted by vraxoin at 8:50 AM on September 16, 2003

I just heard the Director of Marketing for Buena Vista Pictures (Disney, Touchstone Films) speak yesterday, and he acknowledged that their advertising department puts trailers for their new movies up on p2p networks, despite a company policy prohibiting that practice. Funny though, they keep claiming p2p is only good for illegal purposes.....
posted by slhack3r at 8:51 AM on September 16, 2003

Doing a search for "tutorial" yields some interesting and useful results.
posted by mecran01 at 8:52 AM on September 16, 2003

[on preview: What vraxoin said about slashdotting.]

Actually, bittorrent is a poor choice for normal p2p file sharing if there is not a large demand for the file you are interested in. There is also no built in seach technology in bittorrent, you have to have to know about the file you want beforehand.
posted by jsonic at 8:54 AM on September 16, 2003

BT is a means of downloading a file. It is not a means of finding files to download. Bram was not trying to recreate Kazaa or Napster at all. He probably wasn't even thinking about that.

check here for more information.
posted by shadow45 at 9:08 AM on September 16, 2003

It's perfect for the live music downloads I'm talking about--the Dead play a show on Saturday, and by Monday or Tuesday, the taper starts serving it. Once BT gets over the hump (when the first bunch of people finish), the thing kicks into overdrive as demand goes crazy. Less than a week after the show, everybody's listening to it. Beats the hell out of trading hissy maxell tapes in the mail.

(PS: Right now, everybody's sucking down live Cash.)
posted by muckster at 9:10 AM on September 16, 2003

I search for copyrighted music, but (and this may get me laughed off of Mefi) I almost always go out and buy the CD of what I download - unless it sucks, in which case I delete it.

No, I'm not kidding.

Oh, and also amateur porn.
posted by RylandDotNet at 9:14 AM on September 16, 2003

I'd like to see someone create an open source p2p dating service that would free Internet love from the cruel $19.95/month monopoly of Match.com and Springstreet.

After all, romance wants to be free.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:17 AM on September 16, 2003

Anybody using current P2P solutions in a business setting to share documents stored on individual PCs into a common knowledge share? Or, as it is at my company, is the negative connotation of "file sharing" (thank you, RIAA) judged to be too much to ovecome?
posted by JollyWanker at 9:18 AM on September 16, 2003

The music industry already uses P2P for legitimate purposes. BigChampagne culls searches, aggregates the data and sells the data to radio stations and labels so know where they are missing the boat. For more, see the Wired article.
posted by pedantic at 9:19 AM on September 16, 2003

New episodes of Red vs. Blue are released on bit torrent.
posted by swerdloff at 9:21 AM on September 16, 2003

Amateur pornographers seem to be making the most judicious and profitable use of p2p. Or, you know, so I've heard...

but if it's "profitable," can it still be called "amateur porn?"

Now there's a fun debate we could have. Hopefully there will be visual aids...
posted by jonmc at 9:21 AM on September 16, 2003

Way's I've used p2p legitimately:
* swapping a work in progress with clients via instant messaging to augment the conversation
* locating shipping-version config files for things I've screwed up by ill-advised change
* playing mindless google-esque search games for odd words like 'coffee' and seeing what turns up (okay that's just silly but i do it)
* searching for writing by people who haven't necessarily published their works to the web in a way I'll find it otherwise - some people have some good writing shared
* finding people who use some of the same software and starting a conversation with them to see if they can lend some advice

I'm by no means squeaky clean in all my p2p uses, but I don't think I hurt anyone by doing these other things with it.
posted by holycola at 9:30 AM on September 16, 2003

I get old episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 via eMule. The legalily is probably somewhat dubious, but there is no other way to get them. I've bought the few that have made it to DVD, but many are tied up in rights issues (Godzilla films, for instance) and will never be released that way.

Is it wrong to copy a show that puts "keep circulating the tapes" on the bottom of the screen every episode?
posted by hipnerd at 9:34 AM on September 16, 2003

bittorrent is a poor choice for normal p2p file sharing if there is not a large demand for the file you are interested i

Yep. It also runs into the problem of possibly not having anyone sharing the entire file, so you end up downloading part of the file but not having anyone to download the rest of the file from.
posted by gyc at 10:01 AM on September 16, 2003

useful, legal, and interesting?

pr0n is useful, legal, and interesting.
posted by carfilhiot at 10:06 AM on September 16, 2003

I use them to download music for personal use.

'course, I'm Canadian and it's legal to do that here. Sorry.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:27 AM on September 16, 2003

I wish my company would use P2P for locating files. It'd be easier than trying to search thru 12 different intranets to find what I'm looking for. When your employer is so large you don't know where to *begin* to look for a file and your search mechanism blows thanks to inept IT staff, P2P would be the way to go.
posted by infowar at 10:30 AM on September 16, 2003

I know a fellow who does retouching, dumps the file on his Haxial server, and then sends the client the login. It's easier to run than FTP or SFTP, it has resumable downloads, and he doesn't have to deal with but a single client application when the client has a problem.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:30 AM on September 16, 2003

It's perfect for the live music downloads

Seconded. I get on WinMX at around 8 PM my time, and the Jpop sharers are just starting their day. I've snagged all sorts of cool live shows this way. It's technically not legal, but then again, where else am I going to hear an NHK broadcast of an Off Course show from 1980, short of a time machine?

One of these days I ought to see how Soulseek is, too...
posted by vorfeed at 10:39 AM on September 16, 2003

I download books by dead authors. They are legit under copyright laws as the right to the copyright expires after 30 someodd years. However, good luck trying to find a free copy anywhere other than p2p.
posted by sourbrew at 10:47 AM on September 16, 2003

sourbrew: try the original p2p: irc, on a network with the letters "u", "n", "d", "e" and "r" in its name, in a channel which starts with "book" and ends with "z".
posted by signal at 10:58 AM on September 16, 2003

(uh, Project Gutenburg, sourbrew?)

There's always Linux distros and game demos, though both of these probably work better via BitTorrent rather than Kazaa et al.

In fact, p2p distribution is a win for anything under a free-as-in-beer or open source licence, as the creator no longer needs to pay to get their stuff distributed.
posted by arto at 11:01 AM on September 16, 2003


posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:01 AM on September 16, 2003

What is the copyright status of 1920's era blues recordings which have been re-released on CD and subsequently ripped to mp3? Is the copyright renewed for the new issue of the recordings? If no, what about in the cases where the recordings are remastered & the sound is cleaned up? If such things are legal, then include in your list: downloading of old-time music which is in the public domain
posted by skwm at 11:57 AM on September 16, 2003

I use w.a.s.t.e. as an easy-to-set-up vpn between my work and home (and also to share my cd / movie collection with a trusted group of friends). It is truly a great program.
posted by y10k at 12:33 PM on September 16, 2003

Sorry about the html. I didn't realize the paragraph tag had been disallowed. I actually don't care about p2p at all, I'm just doing dissertation research on the social formation of microgenres in collaborative weblogs, and wanted to see how everyone would react to an html gaffe. Very interesting. Please continue...

Everything not forbidden is compulsory.

These are some pretty cool applications.
posted by mecran01 at 12:44 PM on September 16, 2003

there's kazaa mining. you do a search for one of those letter groups that most digital cameras prepend to file names. usually people drop these into their picture folders and forget (or don't care) that they're sharing them. it's always interesting.
posted by magikeye at 1:23 PM on September 16, 2003

Additionally: P2P, like irc and Usenet before it, is great for "abandonware" — software that is long out of print and certainly not available from a retailer or distributor for sale. Sure, you could scrounge on auction sites or in second-hand stores for the elusive title you're looking for, but it's a lot easier to get it on a P2P network.

Okay, that's a fuzzy legal issue, but I really haven't heard many stories about people getting in legal trouble over trading old copies of Pathways into Darkness.
posted by Down10 at 3:40 PM on September 16, 2003

hmm.. i get almost all of my fansubbed anime via a bittorrent link.
thats completely legal, until the anime gets licensed where i live. only about 1 on 5 gets licensed.

i can find legitimate reasons for everything. it just takes time.
posted by dioxide at 5:18 PM on September 16, 2003

So the answer to the question posed in the original post is "No, not really" then?
posted by Hogshead at 5:35 PM on September 16, 2003

Only if you don't read the thread, Hogshead.
posted by botono9 at 5:54 PM on September 16, 2003

BT is a means of downloading a file.

I also happen to make an excellent ginger-apple cobbler.
posted by BT at 7:10 PM on September 16, 2003

I'm Canadian. I search for MP3s, it's nice and legal here.
posted by tiamat at 6:52 AM on September 17, 2003

Searching for abandonware only works if you know the exact name of the file, or what is worth searching for. Nobody tags their orphaned stuff with "abandonware" before it is stuck on the server. Which is a bummer, because that'd be great if they did.

And could the Canadians please stop making fun of us? At least we have affordable healthcare. [cringe]
posted by mecran01 at 11:59 AM on September 17, 2003

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