How P2P Is Misused
First, a user downloads Frostwire software or any number of other free Gnutella Peer-to-Peer (P2P) applications, installs the application on their computer, and searches for a song, movie or game. The Gnutella application then sends a request to the Gnutella network, a voluntary network of all users of Gnutella applications.
The application uses the network to create a list of all of the available versions of the requested content, which is then displayed. The user selects the version and source of the content that they want to download. The Gnutella application then sends a request for the content out to the network. Usually, the previous users who have downloaded the content have the content available on their computer for the next person who wants it. After downloading, they would specifically have to disable the application from offering it back to the network. The Gnutella clients literally “talk amongst themselves” without any involvement from the user and the full piece of content gets sent to the requested user in many small pieces from many individual user's computers. Very quickly, the user has the desired content in moments. An entire discography can take as little as five minute to download on ordinary connections, for free.
By contrast, the BitTorrent P2P network works in a different way. First, the user locates a “torrent” file that contains the detailed location of the computers that have the source files. Think of almost any popular old or new recording artists or movie and enter the name into Google. Google will often display a drop down list that will contain the word “discography.” Within the first page of search results you will see the links to the torrent site for the artist or movie. These torrent pages also create revenue from serving advertisements.
Public torrent hosting sites such as The Pirate Bay allow users to search and download from their collection of torrent files. Users can typically also upload torrent files for content they wish to distribute. Often, these sites also run BitTorrent trackers for their hosted torrent files, but these two functions are not mutually dependent: a torrent file could be hosted on one site and tracked by another, unrelated site.
The industry has developed its own terminology. Seeders are people who have finished downloading 100% of a file and are sharing it for download. Leachers are people who are downloading the file and sharing a small part of it at the same time.
In order to obtain and maintain rapid downloads; a user usually must allow their computer to upload desired content back to the network.
BitTorrent Private host/tracker sites such as Demonoid operate like public ones except that they restrict access to registered users and keep track of the amount of data each user uploads and downloads, in an attempt to reduce leeching.
BitTorrent search engines allow the discovery of torrent files that are hosted and tracked on other sites; examples include Mininova, BTJunkie, Torrentz, The Pirate Bay, Eztorrent and isoHunt. These sites allow the user to ask for content meeting specific criteria (such as containing a given word or phrase) and retrieve a list of links to torrent files matching those criteria.
A February 2010 study done by Sauhard Sahi at Princeton University found that only 1% of files transferred on Bittorrent did not infringe on copyrighted material.
P2P is Profitable for Pirates
In 2008, it was revealed that just one BitTorrent hosting/tracker site was making $4 million a year on advertising. Additionally, these sites are making money scraping user’s data from their hard drives and selling it for marketing and even identity theft purposes. In February 2010, The Federal Trade Commission sent letters to almost 100 organizations notifying them that personal information, including sensitive data about customers and employees, had been shared from their computer networks and was available on peer -to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks to any users of those networks, who could use it to commit identity theft or fraud.