The war waged by major record and movie companies on internet piracy as well as the numerous laws that were brought to the public attention and that eventually failed to be passed (SOPA for instance) is no secret to anyone. Without taking one side or the other in this seemingly never-ending series of battles – nobody can state with absolute certainty who the bad guys are at this point – let's explore a less familiar topic, namely the effects of online content piracy on web hosting. At the same time, we will also discuss some of the upshots of the battle between content owners and the pirates. Yarrr!
How it all started
Piracy dates from a simpler time, namely 1998, when the very first file sharing service – Napster – was born, allowing people from all over the world to download and share digital content (mainly music), with or without the permission of the copyright owners. On the very same year but at a prior date, an important act was passed in the US (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). The DMCA had, at least in theory, the role to put an end to piracy by establishing a system of notification and takedowns for websites that engaged in copyright infringing activities. In the meanwhile, Napster continued to amass millions of users and it was not until 1999 that the website was eventually shut down as a result of several lawsuits. But the war was far from over.
Two new piracy gateways emerge from the shadows
Napster was so easy to take down because this network employed a centralized server system for all queries and downloads, so the plug was pulled immediately after the court's verdict. However, as record companies were about to find out, it wouldn't be quite so easy to stop illegal file sharing via Gnutella and Bittorent. Since centralization is not a critical factor to the success of these sharing methods – in most cases the networks are fully decentralized – record/movie companies are still finding it difficult to eliminate the "unfair competition" in spite of the favorable court verdict. Therefore, an alternative solution had to be found.
Content distribution networks
The only chink in the armor of illegal file sharing consists of the fact that the content cannot be verified, especially since everyone can upload anything – including malware-ridden content – on p2p sharing sites and file lockers. Consequentially, noticing that users were constantly complaining about the poor quality of illegal content, major labels made an attempt – successfully even – to beat the pirates at their own game, thus content distribution networks were born. The list here includes YouTube, Amazon's cloud streaming service, Grooveshark, Netflix and many others.
What it all boils down to
The key to understanding the impact of these constant struggles between pirates and the content owners on hosting is the sharing method. Well, to put it simply, as the battle rages on, the increasingly complex and bandwidth-intensive content has determined a consistent increase in the bandwidth provided for the public by internet service providers and this also brought about a decrease in the price of hosting services. This is due to the fact that as a higher bandwidth is becoming increasingly accessible to the public, more and more people are able to afford quality web hosting and especially the type that permits reliable and fast audio/video streaming directly on the website. Who'd have thought!
This post is written by Estelle Hines. There is nothing that she enjoys more then a good game of chess. She likes sharing useful tips on cheap hosting, SEO and blogging.