Monday, March 24, 2008

An Easter Radio Special on File Sharing in Sweden

If you can understand Swedish you may be interested in listening to the Swedish National Radio special on Pirates and Money (Streamed online for the next 30 days and available as a Mp3 download). It is an attempt to present the so many diverse opinions around peer to peer file sharing in Sweden, which is done by 1.3 million Swedes. Money is a central concern, innovation and new media models is another. Swedes pay around 6-7 billion crowns (around $1 billion US) per year for broadband connection, plus what is payed for Mp3 players, blank CDs and all the rest of the gear that goes with file sharing. File sharing is not free. Money is the prize not the music.
"Inte jaga en hel ungdomsgeneration" (Not hunt down a whole youth generation)is the quote repeated from the politicians from the major Swedish parties. However, they seem at a loss regrading how they are going to please the industry and be able to give consumers a model they are happy with. "Creative solutions" are needed but there are few being offered. Politicians admit they have problems with their own children and downloading of copyright protected material in their own homes. One film maker was telephoned to ask about file sharing, Hannes Holm, who has campaigned against file sharing. His daughter answered the phone and explained that "pappa gets angry with me when I download films", and that "grätis är gott" (free is delicious)- it is clear that the model of P2P file sharing is one that fits with the consumption that is taught to the young in our society from the earliest years of their lives. Why shouldn't they do it?
Another interesting point mentioned in the broadcast but rarely taken up is how the Internet relies on localised sub networks, P2P sections, to run. At the beginning of the broadcast the journalist mentions how when the Pirate bay torrent tracker was taken offline briefly in 2006 there was a noticed decline in Internet traffic. Imagine if all torrent networks were closed down and information generally went through the main channels at the center of the network. The congestion would be severe, as a 2007 study pointed out:

Three distinct regions are apparent: an inner core of highly connected nodes, an outer periphery of isolated networks, and a mantle-like mass of peer-connected nodes. The bigger the node, the more connections it has. Those nodes that are closest to the center are connected to more well-connected nodes than are those on the periphery. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
Interesting. A review of the study in The Technology Review summarized the findings as; "Routing traffic through peer-to-peer networks could stave off Internet congestion, according to a new study." (previous post)

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