I have a bone to pick with New Scientist’s headline writer. For an article about Google’s blocking of certain search terms in their
instant results, the headline reads thus:
Google censors peer-to-peer search terms
In fact, the article tells us that the terms in question relate to torrent downloads. The article doesn’t mention
peer-to-peer at all; it’s only in the headline. And the headline gives the wrong impression.
Peer-to-peer is not synonymous with file sharing of questionable legality. In fact, it’s not synonymous with file sharing of any kind: file sharing is one application of peer-to-peer protocols, but there’s a lot of other stuff on the Internet that works peer-to-peer.
- Instant messaging
- Networked games
- Many voice-over-IP systems
- Any other SIP-based application
Many of these services put two end-user systems in touch with each other, and then use peer-to-peer protocols, keeping any central servers out of the picture — and out of interference, eliminating any bottlenecks that a server might cause.
The fact that many people violate copyright by using peer-to-peer file sharing to pass around copyrighted material sometimes gives
peer-to-peer a bad name. But a lot of useful stuff that’s legally solid and non-controversial is peer-to-peer as well. Let’s not tar all of those with the same brush.