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Three Roads to P2P Systems and Their Impact on Business Practices and Ethics

Author(s): Ugo Pagallo and Massimo Durante


Source: Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 90, Supplement 4: THE IMPACT OF NETWORK ETHICS
ON BUSINESS PRACTICES (2009), pp. 551-564
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40863687
Accessed: 16-01-2016 05:52 UTC
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Springer
2010

Ethics(2009)90:551-564
ofBusiness
Journal
DOI 10.1007/sl0551-010-0606-y

Three Roads to P2P Systemsand Their


Impacton BusinessPracticesand Ethics

Ugo Pagallo
MassimoDurante

authorsand the public,mediatedby the different


distribuphasesand servicesofproduction,
storage,
and
of
material
artefacts
via
business
tion,
delivery
As physicalobjectshad to be stored,
organizations.
and distributed
beforeeventually
transported,
being
the
most
authors
could
not
purchasedby
public,
in
all
these
On
the
the
rule
engage
steps:
contrary,
wasthat"theypreferred
to resort
to businesses
to set
trilateral
between
up the characteristic
relationship
and thepublic,whichis typicalof
creator,
business,
ofcopyrighted
works"(Ricolfi,
primary
exploitation
of
2007,p. 286).Whatismore,secondary
exploitation
the artefacts
an
even
route
in
that
required
longer
further
classesof businesses
and markets
had to be
addedto themanufacture
and sale,as in thecase of
musicbroadcasting
viaradioandoffilms
viatelevision
networks.
Technology,however,has profoundly
changed
thisbusinessofinformation
products.
By exploiting
the revolutionary
fact that,at least theoretically
there
is
no
between
speaking,
longeranydifference
theoriginal
anditscopy,a "shortroute"isjoiningand sometimes
has even replaced- the traditional
"long route." Specifically,"peer-to-peer(P2P)
whereusersdirectly
connectto others
architectures,
to shareanddownloadfiles,havefurther
accelerated
KEY WORDS: information
P2P systems, the
ethics,
ontology,
of
resources"
propagation digital
(Shanget al.,
valuechain
topologyof complexsocialnetworks,
holdersofsoundrecord2008,p. 349). As copyright
bothinthe
ingsandphonograms
quicklyunderstood
U.S. andinEurope,thisnewscenariomeansthatthe
conventional
distinction
betweenprimary
and secIntroduction
of
a
work
vanishes
in
ondary
exploitation given
simply
environments:
This is whyboththeWorld
digital
The emergenceof information
Intellectual
technology,the
Property
Organization
(WIPO)'s treaties
internetand file sharingapplications-systems
like
from1996aimtoprevent
"thatmembers
ofthepublic
havedisrupted
thetraaccess
these
works
in
(P2P) software
peer-to-peer
may
(protected
by copyright
ditional
valuechainofmediaobjects.Untilthemidsoundrecordings
andphonograms)
froma placeand
1990s,therewasthetraditional
at a timeindividually
chosenby them"(Copyright
"longroute"between
ABSTRACT. This articleexaminessome of the most
P2P systems
relevant
issuesconcerning
so as to takesides
in today'sstrongly
debate.
The
idea is to intepolarized
with an ontological
gratea context-based
perspective
of informational
norms;thanksto a prorepresentation
ceduraloutlookwhichis presented
in termsofburdenof
we examinethree''roads."
proof More particularly,
First,the topologicalapproachto complexsocial networksallowsus to comprehend
the laws accordingto
whichinformation
is distributed
throughP2P systems
and how a "shortroute" has joined, and sometimes
replaced,the traditional
"long route"betweencreator,
andthepublic.The secondroadis thecontextbusiness,
basedperspective
elaborated
and
by Helen Nissenbaum,
and HermanTavani:
developedby FrancisGrodzinsky
The goal is to determine
thenormsthatgovernsuchan
informational
flowas normsof appropriateness
and distribution.
The finalroadis theinformational
viewpoint
on ethicsproposedby LucianoFloridiwiththeidea that
standard
ethicaltheoriescannoteasilybe adaptedto deal
withthenew informational
issuesemerging
withdigital
While empiricalevidenceon theimpactof
technology.
P2P systems
is stillquite controversial,
it is crucialto
determine
on whomtheburdenofprooffallsin a given
on censorsor advocates,
outboththe
context,
bysingling
default
normsandexceptions
in theuseanddevelopment
ofP2P software.

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552

Ugo Pagallo and Massimo Durante

and PhonogramsTreaty's
Treaty's art. 8 and Performances

art.14).
As somepopularon-linesstoreslikeAmazonor
inforthereexistfullyintegrated
Tunes illustrate,
of
mationsystems
by means complex
implemented
such as the ContentDelivery
serverarchitectures
Network(CDN), whichare reshapingthe tradibetweencreator,busitionaltrilateral
relationship
between
ness, and the public. The difference
of digitalworksis rapidly
distribution
and delivery
collapsing.
andauthorship
Yet,itis theveryideaofcreativity
whichhasbeenturned
upsidedownbytheinformation
likeToffler
Whilesomescholars
revolution:
(1980)or
of
a
new
talk
about
Anderson
(2006)
type "prosumers"
others
insist
on the
andconsuming),
(bothproducing
between centralizedand decentralized
difference
market
andnon-market
between
mechanisms,
choices,
to stressthenoveltyof socialexchangebasedupon
and cooperation
ratherthanprice(as in
reciprocity
doesnotdepend
This
transformation
Benkler,
2004).
the"distributed
of
on
the
possibility harnessing
only
butalsoon thecompuoftheinternet,
intelligence"
availableat eachstepof thedigital
resources
tational
and
investments
conventional
thatdwarfs
interaction
redundant
intermediaries
traditional
makesmany
(as
alreadypointedout by Tapscott,1997).Whileprofromtraditendto migrate
ductionand distribution
tothepublicviasocialsharing,
activities
tionalbusiness
offilesharing
itis clearthatthedevelopment
applica"short
the
has
made
P2P
networks
like
tions-systems
route"evenshorter.
of
The resultof thisevolutionis thepolarization
today'sdebate: Some stressthatP2P interaction
undermines
key elementsof our societiessuch as
of
or protection
forknowledge
incentives
producers
thepersonalspherefromunwantedscrutiny
(Keen,
as thekeyto a
thisinteraction
2008).Otherspresent
Not onlywouldcommunities
newparadigm:
sponbut
on the internet,
taneously
organizethemselves
to
be
are normatively
such organizations
judged
positive developmentsthat should be further
(Bauwens,2005).
encouraged
Soy how can we balance theseoppositeviews?

thereis
On thesideofthenewparadigm-advocates,
of thesefile
and strength
indeedboth the vitality
that,optimizinghow
sharingapplications-systems
is distributed
information
by theirpeerusers,have
in digitalenvironments.
createdwideropportunities

In a multiagent
thedistribution
and circulasystem,
tionof information
by meansof P2P software
may
raiseissuesof trustamongpeersin relationto the
contentofinformation
distributed.
Alongwithmattersoftrust(Durante,2008),workon P2P software
likesearch
ofseveral
crucialfields
involves
thegrowth
broadcast
andmulincentive
mechanisms,
efficiency,
comdistributed
advanced
ticastservices,
databases,
and multimedia
streaming
puting,contentdelivery,
(Shen et al., 2009). All in all, thesefile sharing
have been solvingsome major
applications-systems
- whichisusedby
architecture
of
the
CDN
problems
verypopularWeb siteslikeAmazon,CNN, Google,
andYou Tube - baseduponthetraditional
(andvery
client/server
design.
expensive)
On the side of P2P censorsand opponents,
this
however,someoftheseriousproblems
afflicting
and
include
threats,
security
privacy
technology
and transclaims,issuesof connectivity
copyright
of
(VaccaroandMadsen,2009a),availability
parency
in somecases,even
resources,
and,to be pessimistic
the possiblecollapseof the system.Xiaohe (2006,
p. 68), forexample,has arguedthat"file-sharing
survival"and,furthe [music]industry's
endangers
thermore,
"that,fromthelegalandethicalpointsof
the productionof music fileview, maintaining
It is illegalbecausethesharers
is problematic.
sharing
are not theownersof thesharedfilesnorare they
authorizedby the owners.It is unethicalbecause
whatusersshareis not theirs.It is stealingbecause
whattheyobtainbelongsto others."
the
Hence, in lightof the currentpolarization,
is
howtechnology
aimofthisarticleis to understand
like
copyright
rights
changingeven longstanding
themintomatters
(1890),turning
(1709)andprivacy
of accessand controlover information
(Ginsburg,
2003; Heide,2001; Tavani,2007). In whatfollows,
we proposethree"roads"in orderto examinethe
issuesconcerningP2P systems
new informational
and ethics.
and theirimpacton businesspractices
outlookto complex
roadis thetopologice
The first
asdeveloped
socialnetworks
byPagallo(2007a,b).This
ofthelawsaccording
enablescomprehension
approach
P2P sysis distributed
to whichinformation
through
thepropaaccelerated
temsso thatthey"havefurther
resources"
(Shangetal.,2008,p. 349):
gationofdigital
relevance.
Technicaldetails,
indeed,oftenhaveethical
The secondroad is the context-based
perspective
and
Nissenbaum
Nissenbaum
(2004;
developedby

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andTheirImpact
ThreeRoadstoP2P Systems
and
Benkler,2006), and deepenedby Grodzinsky
Tavani (2008). The claimis thatall spheresof life
are governedby "normsof informational
flow,"
contexts
different
social
be
may governed
although
setsof norms.Once we have grasped
by different
how P2Ps work,we haveto examinethe"contextrelativequalifications"
thatcan properly
be applied
to thenatureofP2P systems.
The thirdroadis the informational
viewpointon
ethicsproposedby Floridi(1999,2003). His overall
thesisis thatstandard
ethicaltheorieslike the universalnormsofKantiandeontology
or theutilitarian
normsbased upon the evaluationof distributed
cannotbe easilyadaptedto tacklethe
consequences
new informational
issuescreatedby digitaltechnolshouldbe
ethics).P2P dilemmas
ogy(e.g.,computer
in termsof informational
thusunderstood
entropy
and itsopposite,thatis, the "flourishing
of informationalentities
as wellas thewholeinfosphere."
The conclusionaimsto singleout a theoretical
"roads"so as to
convergence
amongthesedifferent
overcomecurrentexaggerations
of both advocates
andcensorsofP2P systems.
we wantto
Specifically,
integratethe context-based
perspectivewith the
universal
ofinformational
normsvia a
representation
outlook
which
is
in
procedural
presented termsof
burdenof proof.Since empiricalevidenceon the
it is
impactof P2P systemsis stillcontroversial,
crucialto determine
on whomtheburdenofproof
fallsin a givencontext,on censorsor advocates,
by
boththedefaultnormsand exceptions
determining
in theuse and development
ofP2P software.
The topological road to information
The topological
illustrates
thelawsaccordperspective
is distributed
in complex
ing to whichinformation
socialnetworks
1973;Milgram,
(Granovetter,
1967).
some
such
as
the
Byconsidering keyparameters
average
distancebetweenthe nodesof the networkand its
we can shedfurther
coefficients,
clustering
lighton
boththestructure
andevolution
ofa givensystem,
by
three
kinds
of
networks:
randistinguishing
regular,
dom,and"smallworld."
The peculiarity
ofsmallworld-networks
depends
on the apparentdeviationfromthe properties
of
both regularand randomnetworks:Since they
a shortpathlength(as do randomnetworks)
present

553

and high clustering


coefficients
(like regularsystems),"smallworlds"optimizethe flowsof informationwithina given networkby exponentially
its diameter.These features
have been
shortening
foundina numberofreal-worldnetworks:
Electrical
powergrids,telephonecall graphs,metabolicnetscientific
works,the internet,
citations,the U.S.
Court
and
Supreme
jurisprudence, thepowerlawsdistribution
ofinformation
thatstructure
everyP2P
levels (Iamnitchiet al., 2004;
systemat different
2007).
Pagallo,2006; Ruffoand Schifanella,
Fromthistopological
itisthenpossible
perspective,
to graspthefunctioning
ofP2P filesharing
applicain
connection
with
the
existence
of a
tions-systems
fraction
of
nodes
that
are
well
continy
extremely
nectedin the networkand thatare knownas its
"hubs." There is indeeda "long tail" (Anderson,
of information
in small
2006) in the distribution
characterized
bothby a fewnodes
world-networks,
withveryhighvaluesandbymostnodeswithsmall
values.The presenceofhubpeers,thatis,userswho
sharea largenumber
ofitemsandthusplaya mainrole
in providingconnectivity,
is entwinedwith high
factor
andtypical
shortpathlength,
insofar
clustering
as therearespontaneous
communities
of userswith
interested-based
clusters
on theinterself-organized
net(Pagallo,2007a;PagalloandRuffo,2007).
This outlook providesa conceptualframeto
evaluatethe statusand role of the nodes in "distributed"and "decentred"networks,namely,in
wherethepresenceand functions
of intersystems
mediaries
areno longerrelevant
on
the
or,
contrary,
arestilloperating
(Bauwens,2005; Galloway,2004).
As a matterof fact,mostP2P systems
do present
hubsandevensmall-world
features:
Suchtopological
properties
clarifythe resilienceof thesenetworks
the
andtheselfish
despite "free-riding
phenomenon"
behaviorsof (mostof) the peersthatare,in turn,
such
triggered
by someaspectsof theseapplications
as hard traceability
of the nodes and anonymity.
somescholars,
suchasAdarandHuberman
Although
a newdigital
(2000),claimthatfree-riding
represents
formof Garre
tt Hardin'sTragedy
the
Commons
of
it
is
that
this
is
not
the
case
ofa P2P
(1968),
provable
like
a
system Gnutella, popularsystemforsharing
musicfiles,becausehubs link clustersof "affinity
networks"whilemaintaining
the performance
and
of
the
In
more
it
efficiency
system.
generalterms, is
to
the
versionof
quiteproblematical apply standard

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554

Ugo Pagallo and Massimo Durante

the tragedyof the commons to the environment


produced by digitalresourcesin the "infosphere"
(Greco and Floridi,2004).
Yet, anotherreasonto pay attentionto thelaws of
in P2P systemsis thattheir
information-distribution
can
topologicalproperties be exploitedto addresssuch
issuesas theprotectionofpersonaldataor the
different
enforcementof copyrightinterestsin digitalenvironments.In the firstcase, by harnessingthe high
of the network- its "affinity
clusteringcoefficients
circles"alongwithitstransitive
properties itis viable
to recommendinformationwithoutrequiringpersonaldata:Hubs can be seen as vectorsfordeveloping
offered
alltheopportunities
bythistechnology(Ruffo
and Schifanella,2007). In the second case, hubs may
as targetsin orderto
be conceived,on the contrary,
break thesesystemsand, thereby,the P2P communitiesof digitalaffinities
(Pagallo and Ruffo,2007).
foror
The panoplyofall thesepossibleapplications,
not
does
for
or
againstcopyright,
againstprivacy,
means
is
a
that
of
mean, course,
simple
technology
to obtain whateverend. Rather, it recallsto us the
mutual interactionthrough which technology is
reshapingkeylegalconceptsand theirenvironmental
while politicaldecisionsinfluencepossiframework,
in
ble developmentsof technology.P2P interaction,
and
otherwords,cannotbe studiedas a self-dependent
purelytechnicalphenomenon,since technicaldetails
oftenhave social significance.Let us illustratethe
point with the example of the "structured"versus
"unstructured"P2P debate, that is, the different
of thesesystemsand how the
possibleconfigurations
nodes are linked to each other at the overlaylevel
(Pagallo,2008a).
On the one hand, P2P networkscan be unstructured,as in the cases of Gnutellaand Kazaa, where
overlaylinksare createdby chance,withno "authoritselfor a human
byeitherthesoftware
ity"established
monitor.
On the other hand, these systemscan also be
as Kademliaand Pastry.Structured
structured,
systems
are definedin termsof a specifictopology- like a
forest,a ring,and so forth- which develops with
spaces thatallow
routingmechanismsand identifier
nodes and resourcesto be locatedin the network.
in
Such different
designsdeterminethe efficiency
of information
thedistribution
because,comparedto
centralizednetworks,structuredoverlays do not
seem to presentsinglepointsof failureor problems

like the floodingsearchmethodadopof efficiency


ted by Gnutella. What is more, the differencealso
modelsare better
has legalmeaningin thatstructured
at preventingliabilityclaimsforactions committed
by the users,and they do not push legal responsibilityover a few super-peers,as in the case of Kazaa
(Pagallo, 2008a).
The relevanceof technicaldetailsand of different
politicalopinions both on the levels of accessibility
and the role of people's decisions over flows of
information- as with copyrightedworks,personal
data protection,etc. - bringsus back to the polarization of today's debate. If, on the side of P2P
opponents,we have seriousissuesof nationalsecurity,connectivityand availabilityof resources not
or (cyber)-terrorism
to mentionchildpornography
on the side of P2P advocates it sufficesto recall
Edward Lee's remarks(2005, p. 152):
more thanjust home
What P2P does is something
copyingas witha video recorder:It givesordinary
peoplethepowerto be publishers outsidetheconindustries....
of theestablished
troland concentration
thelegal
facilitate
P2P
as
such
software,
Technologies,
of artisticand expressiveworks by
dissemination
enablinganyindividualto sharecontentwithothers
- in a decentralized
on theInternet
waythatdoesnot
the
of
or
control
the
majorindustry
require approval
distributors.
So, how can we preventsuch an impasse? How is it
thatthemain taskis not
possibleto convinceP2P detractors
downbut,rather,togo
them
to
shut
nor
tostrongly
regulate
these
on developing
file sharing-systems?

Putting aside for now issues of objectionable


even when we narrow
contentand nationalinterest,
our focuson theimpactof P2P networkson industry
empiricaloutcomes are quite controprofitability,
versial. Some evidence suggeststhat P2P systems
reduce sales of music (Zentner, 2006), of movies
that
(Rob and Waldfogel,2006), etc. Others affirm
at
all
sales
not
affect
does
suchsoftware
(Bhattacharjee
et al, 2007; Smithand Telang, 2008); and, furthermore, there exists some work showing a positive
effectof file sharingon sales (Andersenand Frenz,
2008; Gopal and Bhattacharjee,2006). Even so, if
"piracy and music sales are largelyunrelated"with
"clear evidence thatincome fromcomplementshas
risenin recentyears"(Oberholzer-Geeand Strumpf,
2009, p. 25), it is nonethelessobvious that piracy

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and TheirImpact
ThreeRoads to P2P Systems
would notstopbeinga reproachablethingand would
attention.
requiresome regulatory
In the next section,we take a closer look at the
ethicalfeaturesof the informationrevolution.After
in
is distributed
havingconsideredhow information
networks
file
social
through
sharing
applicomplex
we will examine the normswhich
cations-systems,
an
informational
flow.
such
govern

The contextual road to information


The ethical context-basedperspectiveproposed by
Helen Nissenbaumin her work on privacy(2004;
Nissenbaumet al, 2006; Nissenbaumand Benkler,
2006) offersa promisingapproach to some of the
dilemmasproducedbyP2P systems.
In fact,one ofthe
hottestlegal issues concerningP2P interactioninvolves not only the protectionof copyrightinterests
butofusers'privacyas well. In theU.S., some scholars
have pointedout "how the privacyof Internetusers
in P2P file-sharing
participating
practicesisthreatened
under certaininterpretations
of the Digital Millennium CopyrightAct (DMCA) [as] a new formof
'panoptic surveillance'that can be carried out by
organizationssuch as the RIAA" (the Recording
IndustryAssociation of America; Grodzinskyand
formof privatesurveilTavani, 2005). This different
lance has also produced a new generationof data
in Europe (e.g., the European
protection-concerns
Court ofJustice'sdictumon Promusicae
from2008).
So, in orderto graspthe natureof both challenges
and threatsbrought on by P2P interaction,the
contextualperspectivestressesthe factthatthereare
no "spheresoflife"thatare "not governedby norms
of informational
flow" (Nissenbaum,2004, p. 137).
This does not mean thatall spheresof lifeare ruled
by the same norms.On the contrary,the theoryis
characterizedby a field-dependent
approach as contextsof networkedinteractionmay be governedby
different
setsof norms(Nissenbaum,2004, p. 137):
Each of thesespheres,realms,or contextsinvolves,
indeedmayevenbe defined
setofnorms,
by,a distinct
which governsits various aspectssuch as roles,
actionsand practices.For certainconexpectations,
norms
are
texts,
explicitandquitespecific.Forothers,
thenormsmaybe implicit,
variable,and incomplete
(or partial).

555

aboutpeople
Thus,whiledealingwithinformation
involved in P2P issues, the context-basedanalysis
claimsa normativevalue: "Contexts,or spheres,offer
a platformfor a normativeaccount [of privacy!m
termsof contextualintegrity"(Nissenbaum,2004,
p. 138). Moreover,the aim of the analysisis to guarantee contextualintegrity
by definingand governing
informationin the light of two types of norms
(Nissenbaum,2004, p. 138):
in mostcontexts
areones
Amongthenormspresented
thatgoverninformation,
most
relevant
to our
and,
information
about
involved
in the
discussion,
people
contexts.I posittwo typesof informational
norms:
normsof appropriateness,
and normsof flowor distribution.Contextualintegrity
is maintainedwhen
bothtypesofnormsareupheld,anditis violatedwhen
eitherofthenormsis violated.
Hence, on theone hand,normsofappropriateness
suggest"what informationabout personsis appropriate,or fitting,to reveal in a particularcontext.
Generally,these norms circumscribethe type or
natureof information
about variousindividualsthat,
within a given context,is allowable, expected, or
even demandedto be revealed" (Nissenbaum,2004,
p. 138). On the other hand, norms of distribution
govern "what I will call flow or distributionof
- movement,or transfer
information
of information
fromone partyto anotheror others" (Nissenbaum,
2004, p. 140). The formertypeof normsdetermines
whetherit is appropriateor inappropriate,
in a given
context,to tracebackinformationto an individual,
whereasthe lattertypeof normsdictatesthatinformationis to be distributed
stanaccordingto different
dardsin diversecontextsor spheresofjustice (as in
Walzer, 1983).
Informationalnorms can thus provide a useful
ethicalframeto be applied to the case of P2P systems.As proposedby Grodzinskyand Tavani (2008,
p. 379), thisframeworksuggeststwo propositions:
Pi: P2P systemsoperate according to a default
norm in favor of privacy,because personal informationis not expected to be revealedin P2P environmentsunless it is required by context-relevant
qualifications.
P2: In P2P systems,context-relevantexceptions
are assessedin legalterms;
(technically,
qualifications)
theyshould not be grantedmerelybecause of simple

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556

Ugo Pagedloand Massimo Durante

internalto a givencontext,but also fundamental


social, political,and moralvalues" (Nissenbaum,
2004, p. 146). As Helen Nissenbaumclaims,
ofseveralprivacy
of
a
to theinsights
the
evaluation
how
scholars,
However,itisstilldebatable
"according
includes:(1)
the listof valueslikelyto be affected
shouldbe made.The two
context-relevant
exception
ofinformation-based
andcenare(a) an automatic
mostlikelypossibilities
harm,(2) informaprevention
in
the
distributed
tion
data
to
be
of
the
tralized
(4) freedom,
(5) pres(3) autonomy,
inequality,
monitoring
and (6)
humanrelationships,
actionsofthepeers
ervationof important
and(b) thecooperative
network,
and othersocialvalues.Valuesthatare
sharedby a userwho maybe
in locatingmaterial
democracy
citedin supportof freeor unconstrained
thelaw. GiventhenatureofP2P contexts, regularly
violating
an
is
that
such
flows
include:
claim
and Tavani
whatGrodzinsky
(1) freedomof speech,(2) pursuitof
and(4) security"
shouldbe leftto theinteracting
evaluation
wealth,(3) efficiency,
(Nissembaum,
peers,for
anddoesnot
theflowofdistribution
this"preserves
2004,pp. 146-147).Thinkforexampleofauthentias wellas identification
and
cationprotocols
assumethe role of cyberpolice" (Grodzinsky
policies,that
Tavani,2008,p. 380).
OpenID, andwaysof
provideforuseofpseudonyms,
Inthiswayitissafer
P2P
in
content
inforIn theabsenceof centralized
systems.
ciphering
monitoring,
access to the
unauthorized
not
to
to
mationalresourcesare distributed
only
prevent
according
level
ofthesystem,
at
the
stored
information
Nissenbaum
contexts.
in different
standards
overlay
varying
of the contentproviderwho
but also legalliability
areonlyimplicit;
they
pointsoutthatthesestandards
be
sourceor theownerof that
"I
not
to
does
common
inferred
from
be
happen
practices: propose
may
a
information
sets
ofcontextual
thattherequirement
(Pagallo,2008b).
integrity up
in favourof the statusquo; common
social,political,
Finally,whenthosefundamental
presumption
normsof
be
values
cannot
moral
and
norms
of
to
reflect
are
understood
identified,
appropractices
so
to
be
are
and
distribution
and
flow"
2004, p. 145).
interpreted
appropriateness
(Nissenbaum,
priateness
to
both
and
offer
reconciliation
we
of
distribution
as
in
favor
a presumption
mayrecognize
Analogically,
thedispute:"When thesevaluesclashwith
sides
of
context-relevant
unless
P2P
to
environments,
applies
we need to
those
that
that
distribudemand
treatment,
i.e.,
otherwise,
supportrestrictive
qualifications
balance"
and
trade-offs
normsof
2004,
tionoccursin accordancewithcontextual
(Nissenbaum,
pursue
reference
Nissenbaum's
of
Think
for
flow.Considerthefollowing
information
example
examples. p. 151).
casesofpublicrecords
is
tothethree
online,
Even ifit werenot illegal,childpornography
paradigmatic
RIFD
and
of
the
consumer
because
unethical
to
be
2004,
considered
(Nissenbaum,
profiling,
generally
the
consumer
of
In
the
case
informed
cannot
children
that
profiling,
pp. 151-153).
give
presumption
or
is
information
crucialissueis notwhether
bothnorms
In thiscontext,
tosexualactivity.
consent
private
or publicsettings,
fromprivate
and disetc.,
of appropriateness
public,gathered
monitoring)
(automatic
or
senbe
confidential
not
information
this
since
in
P2P
altered
be
should
tribution
may
systems.
(filtering)
the
is
whether
the
in
nature.
sitive
to
and rights protection
Children'svulnerability
Rather, problem
in a givencontextaccordingto
anduncheckeddistribu- actionis expected
rights,
trumpusers'privacy
to
Forexample,"it wasintegral
violationof
established
continued
tionwouldmerely
practices.
encourage
that
anda customer
a merchant
between
thetransaction
and Tavani, 2008,
children'srights(Grodzinsky
wouldget to knowwhata customer
the merchant
2007,pp. 157-163).
p. 380; Murray,
Amatheonlinebookseller
values
The secondexampleconcernscompeting
[...] Although
purchased.
and analyzescustomerrecords
zon.com maintains
innovationand
such as technological
and interests
as a basisformarthis
comand
resources
informational
access
to
electronically,
using information
creation,
nottobe a signifseems
customers
same
those
to
of
norms
the
is
to
mercial
trade,etc.The aim
keting
identify
ofappropriateness
norms
from
entrenched
icantdeparture
to
and distribution
corresponding
appropriateness
andflow"(Nissenbaum,
2004,pp.152-153).
so that"norms[should]be comcommonpractices,
context-oriented
normative
a
or
threaten
breach
that
novel
with
Therefore,
approach
practices
pared
as
"contextinsofar
"virtue"
a
of
in
terms
or
worth
and
displays significant
them, judged
preserving,not,
norms
canadaptinformational
relative
how well theypromotenot onlyvaluesand goods
qualifications"
industry,
majors,
requestsby the entertainment
etc.
owners,
property

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ThreeRoadstoP2P Systems
andTheirImpact
tothenatureofP2P contexts
andtheyneednottobe
Thesequalifications,
on the
treated
as "exceptions."
"can
be
built
into
the
informational
contrary,
right
normsof any givencontext"(Nissenbaum,
2004,
p. 156).Whatis more,a contextual
approachcanbe
usefulto framethe overlapor conflictbetween
oppositeclaimsas in the case of different
specific
valuesand interests
whichare put forwardin the
contextoftheinteraction.
One ofthewaysin which
thistheory
fromothertheoretical
differs
workis that
"it recognizes
a richer,morecomprehensive
set of
relevant
2004,p. 151).
(Nissenbaum,
parameters"
such "virtues"lead to further
Nevertheless,
How is it possiblethat"implicit"norms
problems:
from
the contextsthattheycontribute
to
emerge
How can we identify
the boundariesof
defining?
such contexts?And what about the contextual
frameworkof the invoked fundamental
social,
political,and moralvaluesthatdo not necessarily
vary"acrossculture,historical
period,and locale"?
2004,
(Nissenbaum,
p. 156).
In orderto addresstheseissues,let us examine
another"road" to P2P systems,
namely,Floridi's
Thisapproachfurther
(2007a)ethicsofinformation.
defineshow informational
resources
shouldbe disin
tributed thecontextofP2P networks
on thebasis
ofan ontological
viewpoint.
The ontological road to information
Floridi'sethicsofinformation
is an ontocentric,
receivermacroethics
oriented,
(Floridi,2008). By rejectecological

this
ing a rigidmethodological
anthropocentrism,
callsfora reconsideration
ofP2P interaction
approach
froma widerperspective
thanthatbasedexclusively
on theroleofhumanagents.The informational
outlook suggests
a different
oftheinterunderstanding
actionbetweenagentsand receivers,
assumingthe
"level of abstraction"
whichassertsthatall entities
shouldberepresented
interms
ofinformation
(Floridi,
2008,p. 21):
Allentities,
quainformational
objects,havean intrinsic
moral value, althoughpossiblyquite minimaland
and hence can countas moralpatients,
ovveridable,
to
some
subject
equallyminimaldegree of moral
respect understood as a disinterested,appreciativeand
carefulattention.

557

This perspective
aimsto explainhow interacting
andshareresources
agentscommunicate
bymeansof
or
Due
to
its
ontocentric
positive negative
messages.
Floridi's
informational
offers
a unified
outlook,
theory
forvarying
statuses
andregimes
thatconperspective
cernthecontentofsharedresources.
In thenameof
theontological
theseresources
are
equality
principle,
indeedinformational
entities
thatshouldbe morally
treatedas partof theinformational
environment
or
Such
a
should
not
be
considered
infosphere:
principle
as an indiscriminate
of thewholestatus
justification
of entities
quo,butas a moralappraisal
qua informationalsystems.
the
Consequently, goal of Floridi's
information
ethicsis to be "impartial
and universal
becauseitbrings
toultimate
theprocess
of
completion
of theconceptof whatmaycountas a
enlargement
centreofmoralclaim"(Floridi,
2008,p. 12).
of imparMoreover,as a resultof itscharacters
and universality,
thisperspective
recommends
tiality
a field-independent
macroethics
so as to rectify
"an
excessiveemphasisoccasionallyplaced on specific
to themorefuntechnologies,
by callingattention
damentalphenomenonof information
in all its
varieties
and longtradition"
(Floridi,2006,p. 256).
A universal
normative
framework
shouldthusbe
able to governthelife-cycle
of information
within
the infosphere
in an impartial,
field-independent
is groundedin the moral
way. This framework
analysisof the concept of informational
entropy
whichis structured
to
four
moral
laws.If
according
informational
"refers
to
kind
of
entropy
any
destruction
or corruption
of informational
objects
thatis, any formof
(mind,not of information),
ofbeing"(Floridi,2008,p. 11),the
impoverishment
fourmorallawscommandthat(Floridi,1999,2003):
0. Entropyoughtnot to be causedin theinfosphere
in the
(nulllaw); 1. Entropyoughtto be prevented
2. Entropyoughtto be removedfromthe
infosphere;
3. The flourishing
ofinformational
entities
infosphere;
as wellas thewholeinfosphere
oughtto be promoted
by preserving,
cultivating,
enhancingand enriching
theirproperties.

What is striking
about thiscomprehensive
normativeframework
is thatentropyrefersto informationalobjectsand not to information
as such,
while the fourmorallaws do not alwaysreferto
informational
as a
objectsbut to the infosphere

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558

Ugo Pagallo and Massimo Durante

whole: "The dutyof any moralagentshouldbe


in termsofcontribution
to thesustainable
evaluated
of
the
and
blooming
infosphere, anyprocess,action
thewholeinfosphere
or eventthatnegatively
affects
- notjustan informational
object- shouldbe seen
and hencean
as an increasein itslevelof entropy
ofevil" (Floridi,2008,p. 24).
instance
So, at the end of the day, does P2P technology
negativelyaffectthe whole infosphere?

to considerboththe
Floridi'sapproachsuggests
and thefourmorallawsin connotionof entropy
in the infonectionwiththe ontologicalfriction
forces
that
This
involves
"the
oppose the
sphere.
within(a regionof) the infoflowof information
to theamountof
andhence(as a coefficient)
sphere,
workand effort
requiredto generate,obtainand
in a given environment....
information
transmit
availablein (a
Givena certain
amountofinformation
thelowertheontological
regionof)theinfosphere,
of that
in it, the higherthe accessibility
friction
becomes"(Floridi,2007b,
amountof information
p. 3).

P2P systems
bothfromthepointof
By evaluating
and "the impoverfriction
view of theontological
Floridi'sfourmorallaws
oftheinfosphere,"
ishment
in two
fulfilled
ethicsseemtherefore
ofinformation
crucialcases.
ofP2P systems,
indirect
effect
as a potential
First,
environment
extension
theprogressive
ofzfrictionless
a positiveconditionforthe creationof
represents
informational
intellectual
objects(e.g., the rightto
and
information,
education, culture).As theyproofinformation
anddistribution
motethecirculation
- P2P
- andtheallocation
resources
ofinformational
systemsreduce the amountof work and effort
ina given
information
toobtainandtransmit
required
Risksforpeople'sprivacy
regionof theinfosphere.
are
information
of
duetohigher
accessibilitypersonal
hard
and
with
techniques
anonymity
compensated
ofthenodesin thesystem.
traceability
is
as a resource
ofinformation
thesharing
Secondly,
since it
anotherpotentialeffectof P2P software,
of
the
for
condition
a
generation
representspositive
As
we
a
as
newinformational
pointed
objects product.
socialexchangeis fostered
out in theintroduction,
of harthanksto the possibility
by P2P systems;
as
internet
of
the
the
distributed
intelligence
nessing
availableat each
resources
wellas thecomputational
affects
Thispositively
stepofthedigitalinteraction.

the informational
environment
as a
(information
insofar
as theincreasein thenumberofpeers
target)
hand
in
handwiththeincreasein theamount
goes
ofinformational
objects.
However,it is obviousthatsucha dataconducof the
tivityhas itsown risks:Whilethereduction
can facilitate
the increasein
informational
friction
the sharingof informational
objectsthatare obvi(Murray,2007,
ously illegallike child porn-files
likeinformawe
also
have
problems
pp. 157-163),
or corruption
destruction
tionoverloadandsecurity,
of
of informational
objectsand, moreparticularly,
such
as
intellectual
Accordingly,
copyright.
objects
to the
theP2P's "contribution
how can we specify
Is
there
a
of
the
sustainable
infosphere"?
blooming
theappropriate
degreeoffriction
wayto determine
Is it possibleto
in (a regionof) the environment?
ofinformational
treatment
reconcilesucha universal
on context-relative
normswiththestrongemphasis
in
as
the
case
of
copyright?
qualifications
Ethics among peers
we havebeen
roadstoP2P systems
The threedifferent
the
of
arenot, course, onlyones.There
considering
are severalotheremergingapproachesto business
socialcontracts
ethicsas,forexample,theintegrative
and
Donaldson
ethics
of
economic
(ISCT;
theory
forcapturing
Dunfee,1999),whichseemspromising
oftheimpactofP2P systems
theethicalimplications
As further
on business
byCalton
suggested
practices.
and
and
(2006)
Johnson-Cramer Phillips(2006),the
can be developedvia a discursive
ISCT perspective
between information
differences
that
so
process
information
and
commons,e.g., the
marketplaces
in
P2P
usersmentioned
of
affinities"
"spontaneous
roadtoinformation"
"The topological
section,
might
be resolved.
of speechas a
Leavingasidetheidealconditions
eventualroad,we believethatthetopologifourth
cal, contextual,and ontologicalapproachesto
as sharedandprocessed
information
byP2P systems
nature
informational
allowus to focuson thespecific
of theissues:That is, how thelawsof distribution
in the networkimpact
and sharingof information
the new
and how to understand
businesspractices
thatarisein a givencontextsuchas
ethicaldilemmas
conThereis in facta significant
P2P interaction.

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ThreeRoadstoP2P Systems
andTheirImpact
vergencebetweentheemphasison context-relative
and informational
universalism.
qualifications
On the one hand, the contextualapproach
and supportof fundaenablesthe identification
mentalvalues:"Conducting[...] a comparisonin
termsofsocial,political,and moralvalues,involves
valuesthatmaybe servedby
fundamental
identifying
the
relevant
obscured
informational
norms
(or
by)
on theflowof distribution
of
imposingrestrictions
in
a
information
case"
(Nissenbaum,
personal
given
2004,p. 146).
On the otherhand,the informational
universalism takesthe fallibility
of humannatureseriously:
"Perhaps,we shouldconsiderthattheethicalgame
to play
maybe moreopaque, subtleand difficult
thanhumanity
has so farwishedto acknowledge.
we
could
be lesspessimistic:
humansensiPerhaps,
has
tivity alreadyimprovedquite radicallyin the
past,and mayimprovefurther.
Perhaps,we should
we are,itmaybe
justbe cautious:givenhow fallible
betterto be too inclusivethan discriminative"
(Floridi,2008,p. 27).
As we previously
stressed,
empiricalevidenceis
indeedcontroversial
and,whatismore,we stillignore
in the P2P architecture
that
possibledevelopments
willhavenotonlytechnical
butpoliticalrelevance.
information
canwe
So, goingbacktoFloridi's
ethics,
P2P systems
determine
whether
reallypromote"the
of
information
aswellasthewhole
entities
flourishing
Are therenot specificcontexts,e.g.,
infosphere"?
copyright
legal field,wherethistechnology
easily
its
users
toimpinge
on otherpeople'srights?
Is
permits
theresomething
likea "presumption
infavourofthe
status
claims(2004,p. 145)?
quo" as Nissenbaum
Whatwe proposeis to integrate
the contextual
with
the
road
to
informational
approach
ontological
normsinorderto determine
on whomtheburdenof
on censors
oradvocates,
prooffallsina givencontext,
out
both
the
default
norms
and
bysingling
exceptions
in theuseanddevelopment
ofP2P software.
of both
First,we shouldavoidtheexaggerations
advocatesand censorsof thistechnology.
Although
P2P systems
have becomeinfamous
as filesharing
that
make
it
applications
particularly
easyforusersto
accesscopyright-protected
filesforfree,theyinvolve
a numberofsubstantial
useslikenew
non-infringing
for
distributed
advanced
databases,
applications
broadcast
and
multicast
and so
services,
computing,
that
have
new
markets
forth,
opened
bymakingthe

559

"shortroute"evenshorter:
P2P applications
aremore
thanthe simpledowncomplexand multifaceted
loadingofvideoandmusic.Thisiswhywe thinkthat
theburdenofproofoughtto fallon thosewhowant
toprevent
usfromdeveloping
andusingthesesystems
risksand threats
ofthis
(Pagallo,2008c). Otherwise,
would
be
but
an
excuse
to
curtail
technology
only
otherbasicinterests
and rightslike freedomof revaluegranted
search,of speech,or thefundamental
the
first
of
Article
27
of
theUniversal
by
paragraph
Declaration
from1948,i.e., "therightfreely
to parinthecultural
lifeofthecommunity,
toenjoy
ticipate
theartsandto sharein scientific
advancement
andits
benefits."
as suchis notat stake:
Secondly,P2P technology
Thisiscrucialevenwhenwe focuson a specific
sector
andconsequently
claimthat
like,say,musicindustry,
P2P software"merelyreproducesothers'creative
work" and that "this processrisksinjuringthe
musiccreators'
interests"
(Xiaohe,2006,pp. 70-71).
in
even
this
Indeed,
case, the same scholarfairly
admitsthatP2P filesharing-applications
are "a new
how "a new type
typeof distribution"
suggesting
of musicproductionis needed. Legislationshould
enhancesuch a new development,
supportP2P
of the public,protect
technologyin the interests
P2P
and
stakeholders'
interests
copyrights, regulate
in a balancedmanneraccordingto the ethicsof
law" (Xiaohe,2006, p. 73). All in all,"as eventhe
and movieindustries
concede,P2P softrecording
ware 'can be used forlawfulexchangesof digital
files'"(Lee,2005,p. 155; quotinga briefforMotion
PictureStudioand RecordingPetitioners
in MGM
vs. Groksterfrom2005). Therefore,in orderto
protectintellectual
property
rights,it is crucialto
that
should
grasp "companies
tryto applyandrealize
theadvantages
ofnew technologies
to increaseconsumers'benefits,
insteadof resisting
change,simply
theirrights,
andimposing
theguiltofpiracy
declaring
on consumers"
(Shanget al., 2008,p. 361).
Would it
Finally, what about personal responsibility?
only be a matterof stealing?

Itis no merecoincidence
thatmostofthetroubles
ofP2P systems
havebeen entwinedwithtraditional
claimsin thedefenceofthe"longroute"
copyright
betweencreators,
and thepublic.Certain
business,
formsof copyingcan obviouslybe considered
immoralwhen theyimpoverish
the infosphere
by
creativeness
and,therefore,
dampening
diminishing

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560

Ugo Pagedloand Massimo Durante

Yet, we shouldnot forgetthatcopyright


learning.
havebeenevolvingoverthelasttwo hundredyears
in one direction
only.
inany
toseeingherinterests
Astheright
protected
theauthor's
exclusive
orscientific
artistic
production,
with
of
her
own
to
the
benefits
work,
right exploit
has
ofsucha monopolistic
thedrawbacks
condition,
a period
bydetermining
alwaysbeencounterbalanced
If
the
first
whichtheexclusivity
after
copyexpires.
in
of
Anne
U.K.
the
Statute
(1709),
rightact,i.e.,
this
a fourteen-ytzr
termof protection,
established
periodhas been expanded,as the U.S. experience
fourFromthestandard
illustrates.
paradigmatically
U.S.
the
term
of
teen-year
protection
grantedby
was extendedto
Act in 1790,copyright
Copyright
in
covertwenty-eight
1831,
twenty-eight
further
years
theauthor's
yearsafter
yearsofrenewalin '909,fifty
in
deathin 1976,andseventy
years 1998.
So, theresultis thatthesecondclauseof Article
27 of theUniversalDeclarationof HumanRights,
of the moraland
i.e., "the rightto the protection
literfromanyscientific,
material
interests
resulting
is
which
he
the
or
artistic
of
author,"
ary
production
overthefirst
one,thatis,theabovesimply
prevails
in thecultural
to participate
mentioned
"rightfreely
to enjoytheartsandto share
lifeofthecommunity,
in scientific
advancement
and itsbenefits."
Whatwe need is a morebalancedinterpretation
solutions
On theone hand,technical
oftheserights.
willneedto
ofP2P systems
forthenextgeneration
cope withplainrevenuesforownersand waysfor
or mediators
suchas
withproviders
sharing
profits
or certificabrokers,
banks,creditcardcompanies,
Think
about the
tionauthorities
2008a).
(Pagallo,
MarketManagementof Peer-to-PeerServicesor
MMAPPS project,alongwiththecreditsystemof
modelin Bit Torrent,the
Emule,the "tit-for-tat"
FairPeers
model,etc.
On theotherhand,as stressed
by Xiaohe (2006,
and
ofbenefit
"with
to
the
distribution
regard
p. 72),
holdwe shouldnotjustconsidercopyright
burden,
ers'benefit,
butalsoincludetheotherstake-holders.
can
We shouldalso considerhow all stake-holders
co-construct
thenewmarket."Insteadofrepeatedly
we should
termsofcopyright
protection,
extending
suchas,say,
admitnewwaysofdefending
creativity
creativecommonslicensesin theU.S. or extended
collectivelicensesin the E.U. Layingaside other
thata morebalanced
itislikely
legalsolutions,
possible

27 ofthe
oftherights
byArticle
interpretation
granted
Declaration
ofHumanRightswillinvolve
Universal
betweenold and new formsof
the reconciliation
copyright
protection.
Contribution to the literature
on P2P sysThisarticlecontributes
to theliterature
temsso as to takesidesin today'sstrongly
polarized
debate,thatis,betweenP2P censorsand opponents
thesesys(e.g.,Keen,2008) and thosewho present
temsas thekeyto a new paradigm
Bauwens,
(e.g.,
2005).
It is not the firsttimescholarshave suggested
ina morebalancedway.For
dealingwithP2P systems
Lee
example, (2005) proposes"a waythatbestbalof deterring
ancesthe interests
infringecopyright
innovation"in
mentand promoting
technological
connectionwiththe safeharbor-doctrine
provided
bytheUS SupremeCourt'srulingin theSonycase.
shouldhavethefreedomto
WhileP2P developers
innovateand developsoftwarethatis capableof
stansubstantial
uses,thetraditional
non-infringing
would applyforother
dardsof secondaryliability
conductbeyondthe design,sale,or supplyof the
For example,thisis whatoccurswhen
technology.
facilitate
infringement
"by providing
developers
on how to copycopyand advertising
instructions
rightworks"(Lee, 2005,p. 156).
thisperspective
Our approachaimsto integrate
bothfroma legaland ethicalviewpoint.We agree
as suchshouldnotbe at stake;
thatP2P technology
involvenot only
yet,legaltroublesof P2P systems
P2P
well.
Lee
claimsthat"in
users
as
but
developers
it is clearthatit facilitates
thecase ofP2P software,
to
bothlawfulandunlawful
copying.It is important
immoral
thatcopyingis notan inherently
remember
of
act- it dependson thecontext....Certainforms
immoral
because
considered
could
be
copying
theyhave an overallharmon society"(Lee, 2005,
pp. 157-158). So, theaim of our articleis to shed
boththe
further
lighton theseissuesby examining
context-basedperspectivedeveloped by Helen
Nissenbaumand the informational
viewpointon
ethicsproposedby LucianoFloridi.On thisbasis,
or
we offerthe "context-relative
qualifications"
be
can
that
2004)
properly
(Nissenbaum,
exceptions
in orderto
appliedto the natureof P2P systems

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andTheirImpact
ThreeRoadstoP2P Systems
determinewhen copyingwould impoverishthe
(Floridi,1999, 2003), by dampening
"infosphere"
and,
diminishing
learning.
creativity therefore,
Lu
As stressed
by Xiaohe,however,"it is obvious
from
the
that,
legalandethicalpointsofview,mainofmusicfile-sharing
is probtheproduction
taining
P2P systems
lematic"(Xiaohe,2006,p. 68).Although
havebecomeinfamous
as applications
thatmakeit
easy for users to access copyrightparticularly
filesforfree,thefactisthatwe cannotsolve
protected
theproblembysimply
thesesystems
down.
shutting
P2P
As thesamescholarfairly
file
admits,
sharingapplicationsare "a new type of distribution,"
"thata new typeof musicproduction
suggesting
is needed.Legislation
shouldenhancesuch a new
P2P technology
intheinterests
development,
support
of thepublic,protectcopyrights,
and regulateP2P
ina balancedmanner
stakeholders'
interests
according
to theethicsoflaw" (Xiaohe,2006,p. 72).
We takeXiaohe'sclaimsseriously
by illustrating
how P2P systemsreallywork, optimizinghow
information
is sharedand distributed
in complex
socialnetworks,
the
openingnewmarkets,
harnessing
ofsocialexchange
baseduponreciprocity
and
novelty
etc. Yet, theproblemis thatstandard
cooperation,
ethicaltheories
as in thecaseof"theethicsoflaw,"
cannotbe easilyadaptedto tacklethenew informationalissuescreatedby digitaltechnology.
While
some
concrete
in
recommendations
conproposing
nectionwiththerights
granted
byArticle27 of the
UniversalDeclarationof Human Rights,we have
thus suggestedthat Xiaohe's proper balancing
betweenP2P stakeholders'
interests
and copyright
holders
shouldallowus to determine
theappropriate
in (a regionof)thesocialenvirondegreeoffriction
forthecreationof
ment,thatis,a positivecondition
intellectual
informational
objects(e.g., the rightto
andculture).
information,
education,
we examined
theempirical
research
on the
Finally,
ethicaldecisionsabout P2P filesharing:As Shang
et al. (2008) affirm,
"the results
showthatdeontoareinfluenced
logicalevaluations
bythebeliefin the
and
ideologyof consumerrightsin all alternatives,
itsimpactsare largerthanmostof the otherantecedents"(Shangetal, 2008,p. 359).Asinthecaseof
bothLee'sandXiaohe'swork,theoverallideais"that
to protecttheirproperty
recordcompanies
rights,
shouldtryto realizetheconsumerbenefits
brought

561

via new digitaland networktechnology,


insteadof
simplydeclaringtheir intellectualpropertyand
the innovations
fromnew techresisting
resulting
et
nologies"(Shang al.,2008,p. 349).
However,evenwhenwe narrowourfocuson the
impactof P2P networkson industry
profitability,
outcomes
are
controversial.
Some
empirical
quite
evidencesuggests
thatP2P systems
reducesalesof
music(Zentner,
2006),ofmovies(Rob andWaldfogel,
thatsuchsoftware
doesnot
2006),etc.Othersaffirm
affect
salesatall (Bhattacharjee
etal, 2007;Smithand
thereexistssome
Telang,2008); and, furthermore,
workshowinga positiveeffect
offilesharing
on sales
and
and
Frenz,
2008;
(Andersen
Gopal
Bhattacharjee,
2006). Evenso, if"piracyandmusicsalesarelargely
unrelated"with"clearevidencethatincomefrom
hasrisenin recentyears"(Oberholzercomplements
GeeandStrumpf,
obvious
2009,p. 25),itisnonetheless
thatpiracywouldnotstopbeinga reproachable
thing
andwouldrequiresomeregulatory
attention.
Thisis
research
viaa norwhywe aimto integrate
empirical
mative
so
as
to
summarize
our
in
conclusions
viewpoint
termsof burdenof proof.In accordancewithP2P
we arguefora presumption
infavor
ofthese
advocates,
filesharing
in
accordance
Yet,
applications-systems.
withP2P censors,
canbe
illegalusesofthistechnology
made and theseoughtto be specifiedin orderto
introduce
an exception
to thegeneral
in
presumption
favoroftheuse ofthissoftware.
Whatit is crucialis
henceto widenourperspective
and,alongwiththe
ofcopyright
consider
someother
interests,
protection
relevant
issueslikesearchefficiency,
incentive
mechanismsand transparency,
inadvertent
discloprivacy,
sureofsensitive
orconcerns
aboutthefact
information,
thatmanyP2P usersdo notknowwhattheyarereally
After
a decadeofcopyright
itistime
crusades,
installing.
to dealwithP2P systems
ina morebalancedway.
Conclusions
We haveexaminedthree"roads"to P2P systems
so
as to takesidesin today'shighlypolarizeddebate.
the topologicalapproachin
First,we illustrated
orderto understand
how a "shortroute"hasjoined
- and sometimesreplaced- the traditional
"long
route"betweencreators,
and thepublic.
businesses,
P2P technology
has openednew markets
by opti-

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562

Ugo Pagalloand MassimoDurante

As
ofinformational
products.
mizingthedistribution
workshows,however,thefinaloutputof
empirical
is stilldebatable.
suchsoftware
a context-based
we
considered
Next,
perspective
to determine
the normsthatgovernthe informathatis, bothnormsof
tionalflowin P2P systems,
in
A presumption
and
distribution.
appropriateness
is putin place unlessconfavorof P2P interaction
of
text-relevant
requirean alteration
qualifications
in accordancewithappropriate
sucha distribution
flow:P2P legal issuesnot
normsof informational
but people'sconinterests
onlyconcerncopyright
as well.
textualintegrity
the ontological
Finally,thethirdroadillustrated
in
P2P
the
interaction
basesof
lightof fourmoral
laws.Whereas"good" maybe definedas anything
- making
thatimprovesor enrichestheinfosphere
to
"evil" its opposite,entropy- it is important
the behaviorof P2P usersfromthe
distinguish
as sourcesof good and evil. The proper
software
should
andinterests
rights
balancing
amongdifferent
the
allow us to determine appropriate
degreeof
in (a regionof) theinfosphere.
friction
can be summedup in termsof
The conclusions
burdenofproof.
we arguefora
withP2P advocates,
In accordance
infavor
ofthesefilesharing
applicationspresumption
and
isshared
information
how
Theyoptimize
systems.
thus
in
social
distributedcomplex
networks, opening
the noveltyof social exnew markets,
harnessing
etc.
andcooperation,
changebaseduponreciprocity
P2P
in
with
accordance
censors,illegaluses
Yet,
can be madeand theseoughtto
ofthistechnology
in orderto introducean exceptionto
be specified
in favorof theuse of this
thegeneralpresumption
The mainlegalproblem,
software.
however,doesnot
involvepiracybuta morereasonable
interpretation
27.
Article
UDHR's
oftherights
by
granted
Whatitis crucialis to widenourperspective
and,
of
with
the
interests,
protection copyright
along
issueslikesearchefficonsidersomeotherrelevant
and transparency
ciency,incentivemechanisms,
inadvertent
and
Madsen,
2009b),privacy,
(Vaccaro
about
or
concerns
ofsensitive
disclosure
information,
what
not
know
do
thefactthatmanyP2P users
they
cruAfter
a decadeofcopyright
arereallyinstalling.
in a more
sades,it is timeto dealwithP2P systems
balancedway.

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Ugo Pagalloand MassimoDurante
Law School,
University
of Turin,
Via. S.Ottavion. 54, 024 Turin,Italy
E-mail: ugo.pagallo@unito.it
MassimoDurante
E-mail: massimo.
durante
@unito.it

38(1), 1-22.
Metaphilosophy

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