Online piracy has continued to grow in this digital age. You'll find a large majority of homes equipped with a computer and access to the outside internet. This is for the most part harmless for the average user, but as technology continues to pave the way, a greater ease of access to content is available to anyone who chooses to pursue it. Among this available content is illegal distributions of music, movies, games, and applications, which normally could only be found at a local retail store for a set price.
The prime technology which has enabled the growth of online piracy is known as P2P (Peer to Peer) networking. It is fairly basic in function and operates by two users connecting to a server and then establishing their own direct connection with each other and transferring files of their choosing. The biggest reason for its rising popularity is that the original server that the two users connect to is not directly liable for what content is passed between the users. A large amount of the content passed from user to user could very well be legal and these networks which host such opportunities use that to their legal defense.
The most well known source for such content was once the pioneer of the P2P technology, Napster. While Napster has battled with lawsuit after lawsuit, the owner finally gave up the fight against the RIAA (Recording Industry Associates of America) and chose to team up with other organizations to turn the application into a pay to play' program, which simply meant that the user could pay a small amount and then download the content they wished and comply with copyright laws.
Since the falling of Napster a new king of the P2P technology has risen to fill the void, called Kazaa. Kazaa provides a very similar interface that Napster once did, but rather then only allowing the sharing of music files, Kazaa allows the sharing of any file types. The RIAA of course has filed many lawsuits with Kazaa as they did...