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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
July 8, 2009
(202) 289-8928
Inadvertent File-Sharing Still a Threat
Sydnor Outlines Approaches to Remediate Inadvertent Sharing

WASHINGTON D.C. - Inadvertent file-sharing can still be caused and perpetuated by dangerous "features" in certain file-sharing programs, explains Thomas Sydnor in "Inadvertent File-Sharing Re-Invented: The Dangerous Design of LimeWire 5," released today by The Progress & Freedom Foundation. 

In the paper, Sydnor, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for the Study of Digital Property, summarizes the causes and consequences of inadvertent sharing.  He shows that one distributor again appears to violate industry best practices by deploying dangerous features that seem intended to cause and perpetuate inadvertent sharing of both copyrighted and personal files.  Sydnor identifies multiple reasons why the latest versions of the "LimeWire 5" program can cause and perpetuate inadvertent sharing:

The program contains an ambiguous "share all" feature which can share all files in a user’s "library."  With one misplaced mouse-click, this prominent "feature" can "share" all document, audio, video, and image files stored in a family’s My Documents folder and all of its subfolders.

The program violates eight industry "best practices." By default, the LimeWire 5 shares sensitive file types, user-originated files and recursively shares folders.  It also fails to give timely and conspicuous warnings, fails to uninstall completely, and will perpetuate inadvertent sharing caused by prior versions of the program.

The default settings of the program exploit inexperienced users.  Many new users of file-sharing programs tend to be pre-teens or teenage children who may be unaware that, by default, these programs "share" all downloaded files.  Since most of these files are infringing, this leaves minors open to liability.

Sydnor proposes that because the distributors of LimeWire 5 have again failed to do so, policymakers who want to stop inadvertent file-sharing should involve appropriate law enforcement agencies and extend the enforcement authority of the Federal Trade Commission by revising H.R. 1319, The Informed P2P User's Act.

"Inadvertent File-Sharing Re-Invented: The Dangerous Design of LimeWire 5," is available on the PFF website.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation