Shutdown of eDonkey servers may be short-lived

The music industry claimed another legal victory in its battle against illegal file sharing in Europe on Friday, but the win may not last long.

Seven servers that were part of the eDonkey file-sharing network were shut down this week in Germany after a court granted injunctions, said the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a recording industry trade group.

The servers in Germany were responsible for maintaining an index of shared files on people’s computers using the eDonkey P-to-P (peer-to-peer) network. Although the servers do not store the actual files, the servers are integral for searching on the network.

That action, as well as other recent shutdowns of eDonkey servers in the Netherlands and France, has disabled use of the network to one million users, about a third of the total number of users, IFPI claimed.

But research analyst Jonathan Arber of Ovum PLC said more servers are likely to pop up to replace shuttered ones. Legal actions against eDonkey users now are “kind of like shutting the gate a few years after the horse has bolted,” he said.

The bigger threat to eDonkey may be losing users to BitTorrent, which is currently the most popular P-to-P service, Arber said.

BitTorrent has risen in use over the last year and now comprises between 50 percent to 75 percent of all P-to-P traffic on the Internet, according to Ipoque GmbH, a company that specializes in traffic analysis and managment. Use of eDonkey varies from 5 percent to 50 percent of Internet traffic and varies by region.

A 2006 survey by Ipoque showed the most traded content on P-to-P networks is movies, music, computer games, e-books, audio books and pornography.

Figures released last month by Forrester Research Inc. showed two-thirds of European consumers who download content don’t pay for it. Additionally, downloading music and movies has strained ISPs (Internet service providers), who are stuck with higher costs for carrying more traffic but get little new revenue opportunity from it.

“Music files are still the most popular category to download, and the attraction of ‘free’ content has clearly left its mark on consumer behavior when it comes to downloading movies, the biggest bandwidth hogs of all,” the report said.

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