BitTorrent is another p2p application that has fast caught on the fancy of the p2p community. It uses the same concept of networking but is a little different in the way it needs to be operated. Even with BitTorrent, you will need to download and install the software before you start using it.
Once you have installed the software, you will need to locate a Web site that will let you download an archive header or a .torrent file. There are a number of such sites that have updated file lists and let you download the header files, which add to the client software and then download the complete archive. This file contains a location that tells the BitTorrent client where to go to find the tracker that manages the uploading and downloading of the archive.
Once you have downloaded the .torrent file, your BitTorrent client will kick in and connect to a managing computer that then connects you to others who have the files. So why would you want to go to Web sites first to download the header file? What makes this network different from any other? Speed. This is the biggest advantage on the Torrent network.
Unlike earlier P2P networks, downloading using this network is a dream since you are only limited by bandwidth and the number of seeds available. If both are high, rest assured, downloading gigabytes of data is all in a day’s work.
The Web sites listing the torrents are called indexing sites and have become very popular. Their popularity has come at a cost, though with the MPAA and law enforcement agencies shutting them down. There is also no shortage of sites to go to so long as you know which are currently being used, as they come and go rather quickly these days. Most indexing sites have a system of listing the number of Seeders and Leechers for a particular archive. Seeder(s) are those users who have at least one complete copy of the archive with them and are sharing it on the BitTorrent network.However, for any user’s download to complete, you will need at least one seeder who has the complete copy. Under certain circumstances though, there may be no one seeder but enough people with all the parts to make up the whole archive, which is called a distributed copy.
Leecher is a user who starts downloading from the BitTorrent network and then carries on downloading by connecting to different seeders. In the BitTorrent network, though, a leecher is part of the network and is uploading as well, many times more KB than they download. This ensures that all users on the network get an equal opportunity to download the file. BitTorrent and eDonkey2000 are the most used networks today. Web sites and forums that support the use and expansion of this network and community are available and there are new users getting their first taste of P2P every single day. However, there is a concern regarding the existence of these software and community. How long will these networks survive given the legal system (read American hegemony) and big American corporations worldwide who are trying to put an end to P2P once and for all.
The “Digital Millennium Copyright Act Of 1998” The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was enacted in 1998 and is an extension of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) conference. Simply put, this act lets US companies protect their works from being abused in any manner using legal action. There are certain clauses in the law that let companies take individuals or organisations to court, who they think are infringing on the copyrights of their artists or their work.
The main benefactors of this act are the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) who have their legal eagles keep an eye on the P2P community. There have been a number of instances where the DMCA Act has led to the closure of a number of P2P Web sites and individuals and groups have been sued and sentenced by the court, thanks to the DMCA act.
However, some countries, especially the Nordic and Asian ones do not have a legal framework in place that will prevent the distribution of software or applications or music using the network. These countries are the ones responsible for keeping the P2P community alive. But with growing US pressure, the future seems uncertain. Is this warranted, though? To an extent, yes. If you are someone who burns the midnight oil to get a fantastic music album out on the streets only to find it being pirated and sold online or downloaded for free by people, our guess is you will go the legal way. But that does not mean P2P is illegal.
There are Web sites available that let you download 100 per cent legal software, movies and music. Agreed, these are few in number, but it is a beginning. Another factor that makes business sense is the downloading of software that takes place from Web sites. Using BitTorrent, this can be done much faster and also be spread to other users. Therefore, the bottomline is that P2P software can be put to good use. Will it catch on? That is a question, which can be answered only a few years on from now.