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P2P Is It Really Worth The Risk?
By Patricia Ouellette

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Proverbs 14:34 NIV)

How many times have we heard someone boast, "Oh my kids (or friend or Dad or Mum or whomever) are so clever with the Internet and computers. They were able to download the latest music and movies and burn them to CD and DVD. Itís amazing, now we get to see and hear them before they get to the record stores and cinemas."

Another statement we have heard often is. "If it is on the net it is fair game."

Really? Our children are on the net, does that statement also apply to them? I seriously donít think so. Nothing on the net is fair game. Copyright laws cover most, and taking or copying anything without the express permission of the creator or rights holder is breaking the law.

We are instructed by the Word of God to obey the laws of the land. By not doing so we are in sin. One of the commandments handed down by Moses is, "Thou shalt not steal." We are stealing when we obtain copies of copyrighted materials.

P2P, or peer-to-peer software, is one of the most controversial subjects in the world. It is also one of the worldís most broadly used type of software. Another interesting fact is that it will more than likely land you in court, jail or with a hefty fine. If you have downloaded a P2P program on your work computer, I would start looking for another job. P2P software is fast becoming the number one reason for people losing their jobs, as well as expulsion from schools in some places.

What Is P2P Software?

P2P software is a peer-to-peer file-sharing program, which can be used via the Internet or Intranet. It is a network that allows users to gain access to each otherís computers and grab files. With some P2P software a user can also use programs on another computer.

Hackers are known to use P2P software to transfer viruses around a P2P network, which is extensive. There could be tens of millions of users on each network system Ė some of which would not even know that other users are pulling files from, or placing files onto their computer.

P2P software is mostly used to download and transfer music, video and published works that have been made available on the net or copied on a userís computer.

Some P2P Software are: KaZaA, eDonkey, Limewire and Grokster, just to name a few.

How Does P2P Work?

Once the P2P software has been installed on a userís computer, the user is able to log into another computer on the file-sharing network. Each user can specify what files can and canít be accessed. The firewall has to be either disarmed or you will need to put the port numbers into the software to allow others access, as well as to be able to send or upload files using the P2P software. Once you have those ports exposed, your computer is exposed to anyone who has the know-with-all to hack into your computer, whether or not they have the same software.

How Can I Find A Legal P2P Program?

According to the Laws in most countries, the programs or software in itself is legal. The software creators have not broken any laws. The description of these types of software is "file sharing," and there is nothing illegal in that. What is illegal is what the user shares, distributes or downloads.

File sharing is a two-way thing. For example, Tom downloads files from Dickís computer and Dick will download files from Tomís. As soon as someone takes a copy of a copyrighted file, be it music, movie or any published work; then that user has broken the laws of copyright. Also the owner of the computer they took the file from has become a distributor of contraband or illegal material.

It is bad enough when you look at it from that point of view Ė with only two people involved; but the real picture is that there can be more than a million users accessing files from one userís computer alone. You also run the danger of those million users accessing your private files. There are glitches in every computer and in every piece of software. There is no real security in using P2P software of any kind.

One fact that should make any parent stand up and think seriously about having P2P software on their system is that P2P software is the primary source of distribution of pornography and child pornography. Your children could download a file with a harmless enough name and get an eye full of sexually explicit material. Sadly, some parents wouldnít be any the wiser.

P2P software takes parental control out of your hands. In fact, you can find out more about a joint effort of all the major law enforcement agencies in the USA initiative against pornography and P2P software at http://www.usdoj.gov United States Department of Justice Website.

When I first started to research this subject, I thought there had to be a better way than breaking the law and risk going to jail, losing my job or losing the opportunity of an education. But there is only one Ė be patient and wait for the movie to come to the theatre and go and see it there, or buy it when it comes out on DVD. Buy your favourite artistís CD when it hits the music shops shelves or pre-order it. Visit your library or bookstore and hire or buy the book and read it at your leisure with peace of mind. If you really have to share a file with someone that you created yourself, email it.

When you are a user of P2P software you will not know who is accessing your system or what they are taking. Law enforcement agencies have now got access to software which can trace users of P2P software. There are hundreds of news reports on the net alone about those caught and charged with breaching copyright laws, distribution of contraband, computer crimes, distribution and production of child pornography, and much more.

Are you prepared to take that risk?
Trish Ouellette is a wife and step-mother of seven glorious children and three grand children. Trish and her husband Jim, run a small computer business from home, as well as two large Internet ministries, which keep her busy designing websites, fixing, upgrading and building computers and teaching computer and Internet technology. With every minute of her spare time she explores her talents in writing and art, which is available to view on her personal website Christ Driven Brush & Pen http://christdriven.evangel-list.com.

LIFE LESSONS FROM 2004:
I've learned that God IS the answer to ALL problems. No matter how small or how large the problem might be, if God is involved, the problem will be solved. Either you will be strengthened and given peace to deal with circumstance, or God will surprise you with miracles beyond your wildest dreams. (Dian Moore)



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