The term “file sharing” describes the act of distributing or making available digitally stored material (e.g., music, movies, documents, photos, games, etc.) to other users on the Internet.

Kevin Chapman, a Technology Support Specialist in Carleton’s ITS department, likes to describe file sharing using the following parable…

In the world of digital file sharing, there exist the Needy, who wish to obtain a file, and the Benevolent, who have a copy of said file and are willing to share. Instead of having to seek one another out and exchange copies directly, they need only make use of a file sharing application.

The Benevolent use the application to make their files available to all who are interested, while the Needy use it to search for their files of choice. When matches are made, the software connects them and performs the exchanges.

The concept is sound and quite elegant. However, as with so many things, there is plenty of room for abuse, in this case primarily copyright infringement.