File Sharing

Is illegal downloading a concern that universities should tackle? You will read about several issues related to file-sharing and talk about methods of prevention and modes of punishment.

Pre-Reading Questions

  1. Do you have a computer in your home? If so, how much time do you spend on the computer everyday?
  2. What do you use the computer for?
  3. What is the meaning of downloading?
  4. Do you ever download movies or music for free?
  5. What is the meaning of copyright?
  6. Have you ever noticed the warning that appears at the beginning of every video or DVD that you rent? If so, what is the warning?

Vocabulary Preview

  • research: study, investigation
  • provide: give
  • sue: go to court of law and ask for compensation
  • illegal: against the law
  • fee: a payment for a service
  • likely: probably
  • in favor of: agreeing with, supporting
  • variety: a number of different things
  • resources: money, wealth, supply of goods
  • performer: an entertainer (singer, dancer, etc.)
  • purpose: use
  • extremely: very

Practice these new vocabulary words here: File Sharing

File Sharing

  1. Downloading music or movies from the Internet onto your personal computer is called file sharing. New high-speed Internet services have made file sharing easier and faster than ever before. Many universities have an extremely fast Internet network for research purposes, but students also use it to download music and movies for free. The Internet2 system lets students download a movie in five minutes and a song in twenty seconds.
  2. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) argues that several file-sharing networks that provide music and the people who download it for free are breaking the law. The performers and the music producers should get money every time a copy of their songs is downloaded. In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with them. The RIAA has sued and shut down some of the illegal file-sharing networks, but not all of them. The association has also sued more than 400 students at several U.S. universities for using their university’s computer network to download music without paying for it.
  3. Universities in California have decided to do something about this problem. They have signed an agreement with Cdigix, a music download service, which will allow students to download music and videos legally from their university’s high-speed computer network. Students will pay a small fee for the service, likely as part of their student fees.
  4. Not everyone is in favor of this agreement, though. Some people think that the new service will not provide enough variety of music and videos, and students will continue to download them illegally. Others think that universities have much more important issues to deal with and should not be using their time and resources on this issue. Finally, some people believe that the music industry should allow people to download songs for free because it will introduce new songs and new performers to far more people and result in increased sales of music CDs.

Post Reading Questions

  1. Do you think authors should be paid a fee every time a person photocopies something from their books? If so, should this fee apply to teachers who photocopy material for their students? Explain your answer.
  2. Have you ever heard of the term intellectual property? What do you think it means? What does it mean when we say that writers and composers receive a royalty payment for their work?
  3. Do you think that downloading music and movies for free is a kind of stealing? Do you think that people who download music and movies for free should be punished?
  4. Do you ever borrow audio tapes or CD’s from friends and make copies for yourself? Do you think that there is anything wrong with this? Why or why not?
  5. Making illegal copies of videos, DVD’s and CD’s is sometimes called pirating. In some countries, it is very easy to buy pirated copies. Do you think this really hurts the movie and music industry and individual performers? If so, how can the industries deal with the problem?

Additional Resources