Pirated music and movies have been around since the first days of affordable audio and video recording devices. But with the rise of the Internet, a black market of pirated software began to rise as well. Unscrupulous teenagers and college students could now use the freedom of the Internet to trade and share expensive, proprietary software for free through various channels. Pirating and sharing software is easier than ever today, but if you want to stay away from pirated material and not get sucked in to offers for free software, stay away from these types of technologies.
The early 2000s saw the rise of file sharing. The most prominent of these was Napster, where users could access other users publicly shared music and media. File sharing services, like Napster, soon found themselves in hot water when media companies took them to federal court. Eventually the corporations won, and Napster had to shut down its free file-sharing service. But services like Napster still exist today on a smaller scale and under different names.
Bit torrent is an ingenious way of sharing data. Instead of file sharing, where there is one downloader and one source, bit torrent spreads out the data across multiple sources, which allows for faster downloads and wider selection of pirated goods at the same time. If you want to avoid software piracy, don’t install a bit torrent interface on your computer.
File hosting sites originally started as legitimate places where individuals could upload files and share with others, through a private URL. But now, these private URLs for music, movies, software, and more are easily accessible through quick Google searches. Rapidshare, Megaupload, Fileserve, and more are havens for pirated software and media downloads without the need for users to download and install software to access.
Pirated software is a big problem, but if you can avoid these technologies, you can avoid accidentally downloading pirated materials.