File Sharing

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing services allow users to upload their files so that other people can download them. It can be an easy way for people to share photos, videos, and other content. Unfortunately, it has also turned into an easy way for people to illegally share copyrighted materials such as movies, software, music, and even illegal materials, like child pornography. Illegally downloading software content from the Web is called piracy.


Children do not always understand that piracy is stealing because they are not physically going to a store, taking something off the shelf, and leaving without paying for it. Instead, they are sitting at home on their own computer and downloading or uploading copyrighted movies, music, and software. If caught, parents or guardians may be held responsible for their child’s piracy, resulting in a financial penalty or worse.


In addition to the legality issue, there are security concerns. Files may be intentionally mislabeled in order to disguise viruses, pornography, and other unwanted content. Some file-sharing programs require the user to download a program or “plug-in,” which may come packaged with hidden spyware. Unfortunately, most P2P services do not have a central Web server where complaints may be filed. Therefore, it is important that parents and guardians pay careful attention to what their children download through file-sharing services. Make sure to scan all downloaded files for viruses and other malware, and look at all of your child’s downloaded files to ensure that the content is what was expected. 


Help children file share safely and legally

When using file-sharing programs, it is important to use caution and common sense. Help your child choose from the many legal options when it comes to obtaining copyrighted materials. For safer file sharing

  • Access materials through legitimate means only.
  • Set monetary limits for legal purchases of music, movies, and software.
  • Install anti-virus software for added protection.
  • Search your home computer to see if there are file-sharing programs such as BitTorrent and FrostWire.
  • Do not download anything unless you are certain it is from a trustworthy source.
  • Report any illegal poronographic materials to

Discussion Starters

Start a discussion with your child
  • Do you download music, movies, or programs from the Internet?
  • What file-sharing program(s) do you use? Can you explain how it works?
  • Do you think it is important to download legally? Why or why not?
  • What are some of the consequences of downloading files illegally?
  • Did you know that I could be held responsible if you download illegal material?