[SIGCIS-Members] The History of File-Sharing

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Mon Apr 23 16:38:21 EDT 2012

Hello Brian,

It looks fairly accurate to me. The question of completeness really relates
to the framing of the topic. It goes beyond just the recently fashionable
topic of "peer-to-peer" filesharing, which makes sense as this was not the
method used before Napster and people have been returning to server based
methods such as the recently shuttered megaupload.com. As my wife Maria
Haigh has noted, peer-to-peer was never popular in areas such as the former
Soviet Union where no effective mechanisms existed to prevent commercial
servers from offering pirated materials.
(http://www.librijournal.org/pdf/2007-3pp165-178.pdf and

On the other hand, the author's implicit focus is really the illicit sharing
of files containing copyrighted materials. So this bias causes the author to
ignore the broader world of file publication and exchange, from the SHARE
software library of the 1950s through listings in books and computer
magazines, ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software, Netlib, public domain
software catalogs and libraries in the 1980s, legal websites such as
download.com in the 1990s, etc. Commercial systems such as iTunes also
include free content such as podcasts, and this is another important
distribution mechanism.

Thus is all depends what you mean by "filesharing."


-----Original Message-----
From: members-bounces at sigcis.org [mailto:members-bounces at sigcis.org] On
Behalf Of Brian Randell
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 6:06 AM
To: members at sigcis.org
Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] The History of File-Sharing


I've just come across what seemed to me to be an interesting account of the
history of file-sharing, at:


Out of curiosity, I'd be interested if someone with more knowledge of
file-sharing than I have could comment on the accuracy and completeness of
this account.



School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne,
EMAIL = Brian.Randell at ncl.ac.uk   PHONE = +44 191 222 7923
FAX = +44 191 222 8232  URL = http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/people/brian.randell

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