Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

The Evolution of P2P networks for file exchange: the interaction between social controversy and technical change

Jairo Ares, Eduard Aibar


Since the irruption of Napster in 1999, Peer-to-Peer computer networks for file exchange have been at the heart of a heated debate that has eventually evolved into a wide social controversy across the world, involving legal, economical, and even
political issues. This essay analyzes the effects of this controversy on the technical innovations
that have shaped the evolution of those systems. It argues that the usual image of a single two-sided conflict does not account for most of the technical changes involved. P2P entrepreneurs and creators show a wide range of motivations and business
strategies if anyand users are not a monolithic group with a common set of goals and values. As a result, the actual historical evolution of those networks does not follow a simple linear path but a more complex and multidirectional development.

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