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P2P Population Grows as Summertime Heats Up
July 10, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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The summer months usually means less time indoors and more time out doors. Typically, we see fewer people populating file-sharing networks as BBQs, vacations, the beach and laziness take priority. Although June 2004 also saw an increase in the P2P population, it appears this summer is also showing a modest increase. According to BigChampagne, the total population of all users on any given P2P network was 8,888,436 in June 2005, up from 8,665,319 in May 2005.

While we usually see things cool off on P2P networks during the summer, the amount of media attention diverted to file-sharing in the months of May and June most likely helped boost P2P's popularity.

The media's attention had been acutely focused on the MGM vs. Grokster Supreme Court battle, especially during the beginning of June. At issue was whether P2P developers Grokster and StreamCast are liable for the copyright infringement that exists on their networks. Since the media had an entire month to fester in Supreme Court decision limbo, the situation gained widespread attention.

Finally, the Supreme Court ruled on June 27, 2005. While initially it appeared to be a P2P defeat, it became apparent the decision was much narrower in scope. In reality, it was only a Grokster defeat. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts where the copyright industry can sue Grokster for damages.

However, it was an all-around win for P2P. From Justice David H. Souter:

"We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties"

The Supreme Court intelligently only targeted Grokster and StreamCast in this case, while allowing P2P to continue to develop unmolested. Of course, developers will have to market their P2P products without implying copyright infringement (which they have been doing for years.)

Considering the great media attention and relatively favorable outcome for P2P in the Supreme Court, it is possible these two events have allowed for P2P's population to grow by 200,000 individuals from May 2005. While this value may not seem too terribly great, it does add to the total growth of a substantial 20.1% from this time last year.

The leading contenders in the P2P world continue to be BitTorrent, eDonkey2000 and LimeWire (Gnutella.) Perhaps the fact these three networks are self sufficient and require little coddling, rather than political reasons, resolves why file-sharing continues to grow.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Statistics/Analysis

You can read BigChampagne's study here.

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