Wired has a great article about P2P networks. I found this part particularly interesting:
It's a commonly held belief that P2P is about sharing files. It's an appealing, democratic notion: Consumers rip the movies and music they buy and post them online. But that's not quite how it works.
In reality, the number of files on the Net ripped from store-bought CDs, DVDs, and videogames is statistically negligible. People don't share what they buy; they share what is already being shared – the countless descendants of a single "Adam and Eve" file. Even this is probably stolen; pirates have infiltrated the entertainment industry and usually obtain and rip content long before the public ever has a chance to buy it.
The whole shebang – the topsites, the pyramid, and the P2P networks girding it all together – is not about trading or sharing at all. It's a broadcast system. It takes a signal, the new U2 single, say, and broadcasts it around the world.
And then Barry Ritholtz is, as usual, embarrassing the music industry by showing that they obviously don't understand what is happening.
It doesn't take much digging to see that the claims of the music industry re: P2P have been greatly exaggerated…
Let me just point out that even though I downloaded every Seinfeld episode I could find on a P2P network, I still asked for (and received) the Seinfeld DVDs for Christmas. Now why would I do that if the episodes were already on my computer? I'll leave it to the entertainment industry to figure that out… but I won't hold my breath.