FTC P2P Study

By Jon Newton 6/24/05

Tens of millions of individuals have used a p2p file-sharing program.

That’s one of the startling conclusions in a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff report issued today.

“Peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing technology offers significant benefits but also poses risks to consumers who use it,” says Peer-to-Peer File-Sharing Technology: Consumer Protection and Competition Issues, put together to analyze the “consumer protection, competition, and intellectual property issues” discussed at the FTC’s December 2004 workshop on p2p file sharing.

Jon Newton

Another helpful observation is, “industry and government [should] take steps so that consumers receive the many benefits from this technology while avoiding the risks that it creates”.

It also concludes that, “Consumers face risks when using commercial P2P file-sharing software programs, including risks related to data security, spyware and adware, viruses, copyright infringement, and unwanted pornography”.

But having said that, goes on, “There was little empirical evidence submitted in connection with the workshop, however, addressing whether these risks are greater with P2P file-sharing programs than with other Internet-related activities such as surfing websites, downloading software, and using e-mail or instant messaging.”

Industry should, “engage in technological innovation and development, industry self-regulation (including risk disclosures), and consumer education,” says the FTC.

“Government should investigate and bring law enforcement actions when warranted, work with industry to encourage self-regulation, and educate consumers about the risks associated with using P2P file-sharing software.”

On IP issues, “it would not be prudent at this time to make specific recommendations for policymakers about the intellectual property issues that P2P file sharing raises, because the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios v. Grokster, Ltd., expected in the near future, may have a profound effect on the future structure and impact of P2P file-sharing programs”.


Jon Newton is the editor of p2pnet.net and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.


The Sony PSP is available on Amazon

Other MP3 stories:
MP3 Players for Summer 2005 Part I
MP3 Players for Summer 2005 Part II
Sony PSP As Personal Media Player - Review


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