Kazaa Media Desktop has been one of the most popular downloads
on the internet for a long time. Most people are attracted by
the ability to download music, software, and other material
“free of charge”. But, most people rarely stop and
ask “why is it free and is it safe?” The answers
might surprise you.
Music downloading, a.k.a. “file sharing” or “peer
to peer networking,” is legal. It is OK for me to share
something of mine with you. However, there are rules. The music
industry won their case against Napster, establishing that sharing
music freely with people that you do not know is illegal. So,
technically, sharing music is illegal and it is copyright infringement.
The music industry cannot sue everyone but they have been targeting
people sharing several hundred songs at a time and they are
| "Why would
Kazaa let you download a piece of software, for free, that
lets you download music and more? The answer is simple.
It isn’t as free as you think..."
What should also be considered is safety. Why would Kazaa let
you download a piece of software, for free, that lets you download
music and more? The answer is simple. It isn’t as free
as you think. When you install Kazaa you are also installing
a lot of spy ware. Spyware is software that sends information
about you to someone else - usually marketing companies. With
that information, they can then target you for spam email, pop-up
ads, and more. They can also remotely install other small programs
on your computer to aid in the process of spying, all in the
name of marketing. You agree to this when you accept the user
agreement during installation. While connected to Kazaa (which
happens automatically when Windows starts unless you tell it
not to), you are opening a door to your computer. Anyone can
take your shared files and any aspiring hacker can steal almost
anything they like from you. You also can download more than
you might have bargained for. Many hackers plant files that
appear to be songs but which are actually viruses or Trojan
horses - small programs that open your computer up to full control
by the hacker.
And finally, the music industry has become even wiser to file
sharing. Lately, whenever you try and download a song, the song
will play for approximately 10 seconds and then cut off with
a terrible scratching noise. These are bogus files planted by
music industry insiders in an effort to discourage music sharing.
And it is working.
"The amount of spyware installed is overwhelming and
will slow an average computer to a crawl over a short period
of time. It is also dangerous to open-up your computer in
the manner that this software does. "
Personally, I recently bought some music online when my efforts
to find songs for free were thwarted by many bogus downloads.
For 79 cents, I could download a song that was top quality and
downloaded VERY quickly. Kazaa, and other file sharing software,
has its pros and cons. I think that the average user does not
know how to safely use these products and they end up ruining
their computer. The amount of spyware installed is overwhelming
and will slow an average computer to a crawl over a short period
of time. It is also dangerous to open-up your computer in the
manner that this software does. Imagine leaving the front door
to your home or apartment open all the time. That is almost
the same thing as using file sharing software. Anyone can walk
right in if they try and take whatever they wish. Since the
software generally connects and begins sharing your files when
Windows starts, most people do not even realize that they might
be sharing music illegally while simultaneously leaving their
computer open to hackers.
My advice would be to steer clear of file sharing software
and pay the 79 cents.
However — if you are going to use the software:
- Be sure to exit out when you are finished by right-clicking
the Kazaa icon in the system tray at the lower right hand
corner of your monitor.
- Also, go into “options” and set Kazaa not
to start when Windows starts.
These two simple steps can make all the difference in the world.
Lou Costa is a Microsoft Certified Professional and Microsoft
Certified Systems Administrator. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.