The fact is that P2P file sharing, while legally dubious at times, puts in the hands of users the ability to hear, read, play, use and listen to media or software they might not otherwise have access to. I’m as guilty as the next guy – Australia is more than a season behind on The West Wing, having just started on Season 5, we don’t get Lost at all until February, and I doubt Tripping the Rift is on the radar of any Australian network – satellite, cable or free-to-air. Frankly, they’re some of the best things on TV (or not, as the case may be). Eminem’s new album ain’t bad, either.
My approach to P2P has always been a little different than some, as far as I can tell. With music, TV shows and DVD, I’ve always used it as a tester – listen to an album, watch a show or DVD and then buy what I like (and where available to me, I have bought those mentioned above). Almost invariably, I delete anything I won’t listen to or watch again. If I don’t like it, there’s no point keeping it. I have better uses for my hard drive space.
If the MPAA, RIAA, ARIA, broadcasters and whoever the various equivalents are around the world realised the power of P2P as a distribution channel, I think the lawsuits which abound at the moment would mostly go away. Or maybe not. Lawyers are greedy (massive generalisation, I know).