Tips on File Sharing with Peer-To-Peer (P2P) Applications
Peer-to-peer (P2P) applications allow you to mutually share your files with others, but besides the benefit of access to a wealth of information, they can also put you at risk: You could download copyright-protected material, pornography, or malware (viruses, spyware and trojans) without meaning to, or you could mistakenly allow other people to copy files you don't mean to share.
Please note: You do not have the legal right to distribute music even if you've paid for the P2P application or for a copy of the music (such as a CD that you copied onto your computer's hard drive).
OnGuard Online offers these tips on how to protect yourself:
Install file sharing software carefully, so you know what's being shared
- Changes you make to the default settings of the "save" or "shared" folder might cause you to share folders and subfolders you don't want to share. Check the proper settings so that other users of the file sharing network won't have access to your private files, folders, or sub-folders.
Adjust the file sharing program's controls so that it's not connected to the P2P network all the time
- Some file sharing programs automatically open every time you turn on your computer and continue to operate even when you "close" them.
- Configure your software so that uploads/sharing is disabled. If you are having trouble doing this, visit the P2P vendor's site for more instructions.
- If you don't disable file sharing altogether, make sure to limit the bandwidth allowed for uploading and limit the maximum number of simultaneous uploads.
- Disable your file sharing applications when you are not actively using them. Since many of these applications make it hard to shut them down completely -- allowing file sharing to take place even after you think you have exited the program -- you could be still be sharing files unless the applications is turned off.
- Locate and disable the option for the application to start automatically upon boot up.
Use a security program from a vendor you know and trust
- Keep that software and your operating system up-to-date. Some file sharing software may install malware or adware, and some files may include unwanted content.
Verify the legitimacy of your P2P application
- You may be paying subscription fees to a music download service that looks legitimate and perhaps even claims to be "legal" but is taking your money and putting you at risk of violating copyright law. Visit Legal Alternatives for Online Music and Movies for other free as well as fee-based resources. In addition, the Center for Democracy and Technology maintains a Music Download Warning List of unscrupulous sites, and the RIAA also provides a listing of legal music sites.
Disabling Peer-to-Peer File Sharing
- The University of Chicago Networking Services and Information Technologies web site provides excellent and detailed information about disabling many of the most popular peer-to-peer file sharing applications.
Removing Peer-to-Peer File Sharing
- You can also consider completely removing or uninstalling any file sharing application. The University of Delaware web site illustrates how to remove file sharing programs in general and LimeWire, one of the most popular peer-to-peer programs, specifically.