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When you register as a P2P software user, you probably agreed to let the network use your computer as a source of music files.

Not only does this make you a potential illegal distributor, it also means that whenever you’re online, every other user around the world (and there are tens of millions of them) has the ability to access your hard drive.

ABOUT P2P

I've heard that P2P services can be risky. How are they risky?

Many P2P services are used overwhelmingly to infringe copyright. P2P services are unlike most websites in that they enable files to be downloaded directly from any computer (“peer”) on the network, rather than from a single, centralized computer “server” or website. With many of these P2P services, when you download a file from another user, your computer automatically becomes a distributor of that file to others. When you use such services to download infringing files, you are not anonymous and you subject yourself to serious potential legal penalties and other sanctions.

In addition, malicious users utilize some P2P networks to spread viruses, worms and Trojan horses (programs enabling hackers to gain control of your computer). Illegal file transfers can also expose your private computer files to strangers, increasing the risk of identity theft. To learn more about these risks, see the U.S. Federal Trade Commission webpage at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt128.shtm.

But I bought LimeWire Pro, or paid for another version of my P2P file sharing software?

Paying for your P2P software, or paying for technical support for your P2P software, does not include a license or authorization to download or share any music you desire. In fact the companies that take your money often go out of their way to tell you in the fine print that the software or service you just bought does not authorize the sharing of copyrighted materials and that using it to share copyrighted material could result in the buyer being sued and subjected to substantial damages. They gladly take your money but make it clear that as far as they are concerned, the buyer will be the one left holding the bag if caught.

However, there are a multitude of legal, affordable and hassle free places where you can find your favorite music in high quality formats. Please click here for a list of a number of legal and safe sites where content is available for downloading.

I want to delete the copies of the unauthorized music on my computer. How do I do this?

If you know the name of the title you are looking for, you can use the “search” function on most computer systems to search for your files by name. If you don’t find a title at first, try searching for one particular word of the title, or by entering the filename indicated on the notice. You may also use this same function to search by file types commonly associated with music (i.e., .mp3, .mp4, .wav, .wma, .aac, and .ogg files). Check your user manual or the “help” feature on your computer to find out how to use this function.

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