Millions of P2P server/clients

Last Monday MiniNova, a popular BitTorrent P2P site celebrated its 4,000,000,000th torrent download. Yes you counted right, 4 billion. They also claim to have 5 million torrent seeders at a time. They have indexed over 11,000 torrent trackers (which are the other computers that actually facilitate the downloads, thousands of downloads for each tracker)

The Pirate Bay boasts over 2,000,000 registered users, a number which likely pales in comparison to all the unregistered users, since no registration is required to use the site. They have over 8,000,000 active torrents on the go at a time.

And, The Pirate Bay and MiniNova are two drops in the great Internet ocean. Albeit, two very large drops, but two drops that would quickly be replaced if they disappeared tomorrow because there are so many more bittorrent sites as well.

The Internet is expected to transfer 161 exabytes of data in the coming year. That is about 191 007 525 093 600 000 000 000 bytes, of which the ISPs estimate between 49% and 83% is P2P traffic.

Now, why am I telling you all this? To try to give you an appreciation of the enormous amount of data which is transferring over P2P networks, and the number of people participating in it. This is what the MPAA, RIAA and friends affectionately also referred to as the MAFIAA are trying to control with the aid of the US Government.

Technically, I suppose, such control is possible, but some pretty drastic measures would be required which would change the Internet as we know it. Laws would have to be changed as well, including copyright, privacy and telecommunication laws, as well quite possibly competition laws (though in Canada at least the latter is not being enforced anyway)

I would venture that all this would be possible if they had just one more thing. That would be the will of the people. They need public support. With it they could seriously erode illegal file sharing, just as the powers that be have been able to (for the most part) keep the lid on child pornography.

Unfortunately, (for them) that support is not very strong. More and more people, disagree with the terms of the IP monopolies these industries have had to date. And the younger the people are the more they are likely to disagree.

I'm not trying to excuse any illegal P2P file sharing. I don't think I need to. Millions of people are speaking with their computers, and they are saying that the deal IP laws make is a raw deal, and is not fair to society or consumers.

How much more would the public support copyright laws if monopoly rights were drastically reduced? I don't know. I'm sure it would be more than it is now. And what is the alternative? Put millions of people in jail, or bankrupt them with disproportionate civil suits? Perhaps if copyright laws were actually fair, the number of people ignoring them would be low enough and the stigma attached would be high enough that we would be able to adequately enforce the laws we have without resorting to extreme measures.

I think it is time to renegotiate copyright. From the beginning. Starting with a reevaluation of the purpose of the Berne Convention.

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"That would be the will of the people. They need public support.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but this isn't strictly true. They only need to be seen by politicians and other policy makers to have the majority support of politically active citizens (those who vote, all the way up to those who participate in parliamentary committee studies).

From what I can tell, the vast majority of people who don't support these draconian changes to the law are politically uninvolved. I do my part, but I don't get the feeling that there are hundreds of thousands of other Canadians active as well. We need to change this, otherwise the legacy industry associations opposed to the new-media innovations will win.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.