Peer To Peer Versus Streaming MP3 Files.

The Guardianreports that among teens, at least, peer to peer downloading of MP3 files of favorite songs is on the decline.  That’s good news for the RIAA labels, who can control the content on streaming sites more than they can control peer-to-peer networks.

The bad news?  The teens are switching to streaming sites, like YouTube and Spotify.

From the record company’s standpoint, this is a good thing – it’s a lot easier to control distribution to streaming sites, and taking down a single song with a DMCA notice takes the song down for everyone, as opposed to peer-to-peer, which cannot effectively be shut down at all.  But there are several differences between MP3 downloading and streaming which can impact corporate networks.

While peer-to-peer downloading does take up some bandwidth, the main problemswith P2P usage at work is the idea of liability for copyright infringement and computer security.  For that reason, it’s tempting for office workers who cannot get that song out of their head to, instead, go to YouTube, do a search for what you want to hear, and listen to the song online.  The first problem with this: Streaming audio and downloaded audio take up the same amount of throughput – but a downloaded song is likely to be downloaded once and listened to multiple times; streaming audio is likely to be downloaded multiple times each time the office worker wants to listen.

The second problem: The listener may only want the music, but more often than not, YouTube video comes along with it.  So instead of 128-192kbps for an MP3 file, you’ve now got a 2-6Mbps video file to deal with.

Now, even though the amount of traffic is increasing, you should have no problem handling it by classing streaming audio with non-business related traffic and monitoring your network to see if there are any changes in performance.

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