P2P file sharing programs are free. Period. But
there are P2P scam sites out there that want you
to pay them instead. P2P scam sites are rogue
companies that have set up shop to fleece unsuspecting
music downloaders looking for file sharing programs
by charging a fee for an otherwise free service.
No P2P file sharing software costs money. Exceptions
would be a site asking members to make a monetary
donation to help pay for bandwidth, hosting costs,
and other administrative costs.
Some P2P file sharing programs offer "pro"
versions of their free software. But again, their
basic service is free to the public. I want you
to fully understand this, because paying a P2P
scam site money can not only make your wallet
a bit lighter, it can also make your computer
vulnerable to dangerous spyware.
That's right. These scam sites are only interested
in making money off you. As well as actually taking
your money by fooling you into paying them, they'll
make money off you by installing spyware on your
PC, so that they can get paid by sharing your
online habits and personal information with others.
For music download beginners, all of this can
be very confusing. Why? Because these scam sites
advertise all over the Internet. Search engines
return results chockful of these scams alongside
the real P2P file sharing programs; their banner
ads riddle the Internet landscape; sites are promoting
these scams to get their piece of your money.
Most real P2P programs don't advertise much on
the Internet. The reason is that they're not money
makers. It takes money to advertise, and who has
more money--the free P2P file sharing programs
or the scam artists? You guessed it. P2P relies
on word of mouth. The scam sites rely primarily
How Can I Tell a P2P Scam Site?
This is the easy part, if you know what you're
looking for. P2P scam sites often use phrases
like 100% Legal, which is absolutely untrue. This
is a trick they use to prey on people interested
in P2P file sharing programs, but who are worried
(rightly) about Recording Industry Association
of America (RIAA) lawsuits. Keep in mind that
sharing and downloading of copyrighted files is,
at this moment, an illegal activity.
Another tactic is to use fake endorsements and
recommendations from legitimate companies. Other
cons are to use phrases like Direct Downloads!,
Get Access Now!, Download Unlimited Free Music!,
and other phrases that are promising you things
they absolutely CANNOT deliver.
How Does It Work & How are They Doing It?
To be honest, I do not know the ins and outs of
P2P scam sites. But I know this: all P2P file
sharing programs are free. Think about it a moment.
It is because music files are being shared free
of charge (without artists receiving royalties)
that organizations like the RIAA are mad and suing.
These P2P scam sites are merely taking your money,
downloading a little spyware to your PC, then
connecting you to one of the real P2P file sharing
This is all convoluted by the nature of P2P, which
is a series of servers networking files to one
another. Unless you're buying your music MP3 downloads
from a legitimate company, either per song/album
or through a monthly subscription, you cannot
be sure where your music is coming from.
The legal status of P2P file sharing programs
is confusing. We know that MP3 files themselves
are not illegal. For example, it's legal to possess
MP3s, to rip your CDs to your hard drive, and
to burn CDs for your personal use. But, by sharing
and/or downloading these files, you are breaking
copyright laws. To my knowledge, P2P scam sites
are not actually breaking any laws. But why pay
for something you don't have to?
One of the most common techniques these scam artists
use is to set up sites that are misspellings or
derivations of popular P2P file sharing programs.
KaZaA is probably the most hijacked name being
used these days.
Other sites may not actually charge you anything
at all, but they'll "give you the software
for free" if you give them your email address.
This too is a scam. Because once again, they're
just sending you along to a proper P2P program,
but after collecting your email address, they're
selling it to third parties. Don't give these
scammers any of your personal information!
If you're on a website you trust, even this website,
you may see ads by these scam artists, preaching
their lies about 100% blah, blah, blah. For your
own security, don't click on the links. They're
still scams. (Many independent websites rely on
ads to pay the bills. We don't always have full
control over what advertisements appear on our
sites. Keep in mind that most online advertisements
are arranged and distributed by third-party companies
who pair up advertisements with appropriate keywords.
So a page that discusses "music downloads"
is likely to have an ad from a scam site singing
their own false praises.)
On this note, there are sites all over the Internet
that actually promote P2P scam sites. Why? I have
my opinions. First, these scam sites are paying
large sums of money to affiliates who promote
their sites. For example, a scam site may be charging
you $29.95 for their non-service. Well, they're
paying affiliates over half (I've seen the pay-out
as high as 75%) of that just for getting you,
the visitor, to their scam sites.
I Think I've Used One of these Scam Sites. What
Do I Do Now?
Stop! Right now, stop using that service. If you've
got some type of monthly payment with them, stop
paying them. Cancel your "membership,"
contact your bank or credit card company, and
stop paying them immediately! Secondly, your computer
has probably have been infected by spyware, and
you need to remove it right away. I recommend
purchasing spyware-removal software like Pest
Patrol because they do the best job at clearing
out spyware parasites.
If you've been pulled into a scam site, just rack
it up to experience. Their ad copy is very convincing,
and you just wanted to "be legal" while
downloading. Take heart in knowing that you're
not alone. But you're better off now, with this
information at your disposal.
In my opinion, this is another reason to consider
not using P2P file sharing programs as a means
to get your online music. I think that these P2P
scam sites will increase in number, and will use
more clever tactics to get your money and your
information. Until the peer-to-peer communities
are regulated in some way, I fear that these types
of activities will get worse before they improve.
About the Author
A former financial advisor and NYC book editor,
Bill Paulk blends these two experiences by helping
people make sound buying decisions. His passion,
building digital music collections through MP3
downloads, is the subject of his first website.
www.mp3-music-downloads-scout.com reviews and
recommends the best in legal MP3 downloads.