One of the plausible guesses of what would happen when the Pirate Bay was sued was that file sharers were not only to go on doing what they wanted to do, but that other systems were going to be used rather than the all too traceable Bittorrent and P2P systems that are currently used. 10 years after Napster we are still sharing, and sharing gigabytes of data each day.
Few people will be surprised by this by Rapidshare has more users than the Pirate Bay according to Compete.com.
Regardless of what the intentions were, of stopping file sharing and trading, obviously fracturing the community did not work the way that people thought it would. If anything we have been talking about this for years, the lawsuits have done nothing but send people underground, slowing down the use of Bittorrent and P2P, but increasing the use of FTP sites like Rapid Share, and even UseNet. With Rapidshare getting more traffic now than the pirate bay or Minnova, the move of people from Bittorrent to custom FTP sites is progressing and deeply underway.
While the FTP sites have their own issues, Computer World states that Rapidshare accounts for 5% of global internet traffic (take that with a grain of salt), in all this is exactly what many of the people who researched P2P and Bittorrent networks have been saying. As people move to private FTP services we lose the ability to track and trace what is popular in the P2P channels. In all we have lost one of the most vibrant ways of finding out what is popular and what is not, what people want, and what people do not want.
While Rapidshare will be sued and has been sued in the past, in the longer run, monitoring the Bittorrent and P2P channels is going to end up going the way of any other technology that gets supplanted. People will continue on with FTP sites and Usenet which are almost impossible to truly track and trace how data is moved around the networks.
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(Cross-posted @ IT ToolBox)