File-Swapping Sites Multiply Despite Legal Tangles

The number of file-swapping, or peer-to-peer, Web sites, has grown more than five-fold in the past year, a study said on Monday, despite legal efforts by Hollywood, music companies and software firms to shut them down.

Peer-to-peer sites, including Kazaa and Morpheus Music City, have attracted millions of global users who trade all manner of files, primarily copyright-protected songs, films, software and computer games.

The record labels and Hollywood studios have made unsuccessful attempts to clamp down on the sites, which they claim are enabling a wave of mass consumer piracy that is eating into sales.

According to a new survey by U.S. technology firm Websense Inc., the number of peer-to-peer (P2P) sites totals nearly 38,000, up 535 percent in the past year.

Nearly one in three of the most popular applications downloaded off CNet's are for P2P services, the survey said.

The surge in P2P usage is impacting the workplace as employees increasingly use speedy corporate Internet connections to download songs and software, a potentially unlawful activity, Websense warned.

"Companies that look the other way may have copyright violations occurring in the workplace, and lawsuits are a potential outcome of such activity," Jennifer Kearns, an employment attorney at UK law firm Brobeck, Phleger and Harrison, said in a statement issued by Websense.

News source: Reuters - File-Swapping Sites Multiply Despite Legal Tangles

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