Peer-to-Peer Media File Sharing: From Copyright Crisis to Market?

  • W. Edward Steinmueller

“But if you copy a piece of software a thousand times, what is the cost? … Infinitesimal … this is a problem … and it isn’t just a problem of economics. We have a system of values, of morality, based on people competing with each other to copy things, at the lowest possible cost per unit. But when the cost, the object of all of this competition, effectively disappears, what happens to our system? Life gets very puzzling.” (Jones 1998), p. 516 (emphasis as in original).

The use of Peer-to-Peer technologies for the exchange of digital information, including audio, text, and still and moving images presents both business and government policymakers with a profound dilemma. On the one hand, many copyright owners view Peer-to-Peer technologies as a new publishing medium that opens opportunities for new sources of revenue. On the other hand, copyright owners’ customers are questioning why they should be prevented from or charged for using new technologies for acquiring, modifying, and exchanging information for entertainment, education, and cultural expression. In other words, the social convention of paying for a commodity whose marginal cost of reproduction is near zero has become increasingly frayed with the advance of technology.


Business Model Medium File Intellectual Property Right Digital Right Management Internet Protocol Address 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Edward Steinmueller
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SussexUK

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