From an interesting post by Robert Cringely:
“I’ve been hearing that peer-to-peer file sharing has declined a bit. Actually, it’s the rate of growth that has declined, but in a market where volume is always rising and prices always falling, even a decline in growth can be significant. This is happening for lots of reasons (market saturation, summer vacation, etc.) but the effect appears to be real, much to the relief of the RIAA and MPAA, which hate people sharing music, TV shows, and movies that they see as violating the intellectual property rights of their members.
But I think something else is actually happening. People are just finding new ways to share files — ways that are harder to detect and even more chilling for society to prohibit.
Look at where P2P came from in the first place. The idea behind BitTorrent and similar programs was that many people wanted the same content and few users could afford the bandwidth to run their own dedicated servers, so sharing files by caching and re-serving small pieces of files was very efficient, especially with flat-rate bandwidth. Depending on your point of view, P2P has been a huge success or a huge pain in the ass.
But all the while, the cost of Internet bandwidth has come down A LOT. Remember P2P was born in the 1990s when most users still had dial-up connections. With the cost of Internet backbone bandwidth dropping 50 percent per year for the last decade or more, the economics have changed dramatically and it has become reasonable to effectively have your own server. No, I’m not talking about YouTube, I’m talking about dedicated servers used in large part to distribute movies and music. I’m talking about any of a number of Internet backup services.
The poster child for this new kind of service is RapidShare, a German file-sharing service that will let you distribute files up to 200 megs each for free and up to two gigs for not much money — 55 Euros per year — with no limit on the total number of files, total storage, total downloads or even total simultaneous downloads. Rip your copy of The Dark Knight, store it on RapidShare, then send the download URL to anyone you like or simply post it somewhere on the web. It’s not as efficient as P2P, but it sure is easier AND harder to detect since nothing but http is used.”