File sharing is a practice that involves accessing or providing access to digital media files such as software, applications, multimedia files, e-books, or documents. These digital media files can be stored and shared in a number of different ways.
The four most popular methods of storing and sharing files include:
- Removable storage devices. Removable storage devices such as USB sticks may be used to store and transfer files from one electronic device to another.
- File or server hosting. Files may be shared among computers or devices within a particular network.
- Cloud-based storage and sharing. Storage in the “cloud” refers to online, Internet-based storage. Files may be stored and shared using programs such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
- Distributed peer-to-peer networks. Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing requires peer-to-peer file sharing technology. Popular applications which have used this technology include Napster, Spotify, and BitTorrent.
What’s the difference between online piracy and file sharing?
Online piracy involves uploading, downloading, or sharing files that are protected under copyright without the copyright owner’s permission. Sharing songs and albums, films, and television shows, as well as other types of digital material, such as e-books, are common examples of online piracy. File sharing refers more broadly to the sharing of materials, and does not imply copyright infringement in every instance. If you own the copyright to the file being shared, it is not online piracy.
Are file sharing programs illegal?
File sharing programs are not illegal. However, using file sharing programs to avoid legally acquiring or accessing copyrighted materials is illegal and constitutes online piracy. Copyright owners must make their material available to you for free in order for downloading, uploading, or sharing it to be legal. In addition, if you pay a fee to legally acquire a file such as a film, you do not have the right to copy or distribute it without explicit permission.
Is file sharing legal?
File sharing is legal. However, you must own the copyright to the document or file you are sharing in order for it to be legal. Legal file sharing is useful in a variety of situations. For instance, employees working together on a project might share files related to the project. A couple might share a spreadsheet outlining their finances. University students working on a presentation for a course might share the presentation files with one another. A band might decide to make their music available for free to their fans and distribute it using file sharing software. In all of these instances, file sharing is legal.
File sharing is not legal when the copyright owner has not given permission for the file to be shared. An example includes an album or song that is released by a popular artist and shared on torrent websites without that artist’s permission. Sharing e-books, films, television shows, and other materials in this manner is illegal and can result in legal consequences if the copyright owner decides to file to pursue individuals or groups who have infringed on copyright laws.