Article about File Sharing.
Much controversy about file sharing exists around the Internet. I have thoroughly researched the topic the past few years out of personal curiosity.
File sharing in general is legal and there is nothing wrong with it. Software like FrostWire itself is legal to use and have on your computer. It is how the software is used that causes legal troubles.
If you use a file sharing application (such as FrostWire) to download or upload copyrighted material with the holder’s permission, then that is illegal. It is legal to download or upload any type of file on a file sharing network as long as you have permission from the Copyright holder. If you do not have permission from the Copyright holder, then you would be committing Copyright Infringement by uploading or downloading that material.
How do I know if I have permission?
The majority of files cannot be shared without directly contacting the Copyright holder and asking for permission. With that being said, there are exceptions. Any work that is in the Public Domain may be shared freely. Work that is licensed by Creative Commons or any similar license is legal to share. If the work isn’t in the public domain or licensed for sharing, then you would need to contact the Copyright holder and ask for permission.
Copyright holders of popular music will never allow their music to be shared online freely because of the potential revenue lost. Record companies, RIAA, and the MPAA often sue people who commit Copyright Infringement for this reason. If the music is shared online without their permission, they are losing money.
When is it okay to share?
It is perfectly legal to share anything in the Public Domain, or work that has an appropriate license for sharing such as Creative Commons, GPL, etc. If the work is not licensed for sharing or in the public domain, you should only share it if you have written consent from the Copyright holder.
So, is the software legal or not?
Let’s look at it like this: a gun is legal with restrictions. It is legal to own and carry a gun. It is also legal to have and use file sharing software. It is not legal to kill a person with a gun. It is not legal to share copyrighted material without permission.
The software itself is legal, and the gun itself is legal. It’s how they are used that brings legal and criminal concerns.