Since the successful days of Napster, file sharing of copyright-protected material — particularly in peer-to-peer (P2P) networks — has been a serious threat to the established business models of the content industry. There have been numerous discussions about the real impact. Scientific papers show the whole range from negative to positive effects, or no effects at all. In my opinion, there are effects, indeed. Some of them are positive as file sharing can expose new music groups and authors to an audience. And some effects are negative as existing copyrights are definitely infringed to a huge extent in the net.
There have also been numerous discussions about possible countermeasures, some of which have already been implemented. From the perspective of a network device vendor, I don’t want to throw my personal opinions into the forum about legal, social and political solutions. But with particular experience with Internet traffic management solutions, we can summarize our arguments about different technical solutions.
In a nutshell: two countermeasures promise to be the most effective and viable ones: hash-based detection of copyrighted files and prevention of their transfer in the network; and active monitoring combined with the prosecution of infringers. For institutional network operators (e.g. universities, companies), traffic management solutions with whitelisting of desired applications and content is also possible, but this is no option for national or international deployments.
For details, download the free white paper we have published on this topic.