Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Will G:Drive kill P2P?

Question to ponder: What does Google’s G:Drive do to P2P and file sharing in general?

Before G:Drive becomes a reality Google has some deep thinking to do in terms of how it handles issues like copyright and illegal file sharing. Google has already hinted that G:Drive will be more than just a personal online storage system. They’ve talked about ‘Lighthouse’ which I’ve previously speculated might be an online file management system, but notably, talked about how it was tied to the notion of an “access list”. Which tends to suggest that you will be able to share files on your G:Drive, which let’s face it, must be half the attraction and point to such a service.

Now, such a set-up is a file sharing wet dream. No downloading that latest episode of Lost painfully from your machine to mine, just flick it across our G:Drive partitions and we’re done.

In fact, if Google were to be really clever about it they might even introduce “virtual” copies of files. Think about it. If you and I have the exact same file on our G:Drives, Google doesn’t need to store it twice. They just tag it as being included on our respective virtual drives and it appears in both our G:Drives as if we own it. Imagine how much redundant storage requirements across the globe have been created byP2P.

Obviously, Google is going to have to place restrictions on which files you can give access to, to anyone. Or else it will have essentially created anotherNapster.

However, much more difficult to police will be the sharing of files between, firstly friends, but then, if allowed to germinate, file sharing networks.

If I have ten friends I share files with who each have ten friends they share files with and so on and son on, imagine how large and powerful that network could quickly become in allowing for the rapid
dissemination of files. I’m suddenly seeing Orkut in a whole new light!

Now, Google’s not going to want this to happen. They’re going to be in the video, audio, multimedia distribution game and they’re going to want you to pay. So we imagine, it’s high on their priority that they’ll want to develop a way to identify files that infringe copyright and keep them off of G:Drive. And hence will begin a technological battle between the hackers, finding ways to disguise files and beat those protection mechanisms and Google’s DRM soldiers. As is proven time and time again, the hackers also win.

As such, it’s going to be fascinating to watch how this evolves. Who knows which way it’s going to go? Maybe, by the time, Google figures this stuff out, we’ll have such big pipes that P2P works efficiently enough that all this becomes mute anyway. The only thing you can be certain of, it’s that it’s going to be the topic of much debate, controversy and intrigue.

Filed under: Google, P2P

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