Peer to Peer Sharing: Legal or not?

There are a lot of questions relating to the legality of file sharing. It would seem to be a good idea to have some discussion on the subject and to provide current and accurate information to those reading the forum. If you can't get your information, here, where can you get it?

To begin with: NO file sharing program is legal or illegal. How you use it may be legal or illegal, but a file sharing program is simply a tool.

It is legal to share that to which you own the rights to. Anything you personally develop, on your own time, has an implied copyright and is subject to copyright protection. You own it and can distribute in any legal manner to any legal person. Likewise, it it legal to receive data that is legally owned, or has distribution rights, of any copyright protected data.

That leaves a lot of undefined areas. First, what is clearly illegal.
If it is for sale, currently in the market place, it's not legal to obtain it by file sharing, without paying for it. This includes almost ALL popular music. There are many books available that are copyright protected, and there are probably even more that are public domain. You need to do a little home work, here.

On the air TV show: GREY AREA!!!
Finally, there is the question of copyright, which is designed to establish legal ownership of the show as a creative work. While networks recover many of these expenses through the sale of advertising, sometimes the profit margin is surprisingly thin. When someone decides to download television shows through a file-sharing website, the legal owners of those shows lose some potential revenue.

This is the problem one faces when deciding on the legality or illegality of downloading television shows. In at least the US, it is legal to use a digital recording device to download television shows for private viewing. In a copyright law sense, it may be illegal to download television shows from any source not authorized by the legal owners of those shows to distribute that content. One can choose to download television shows offered through authorized services licensed by the owners. Most of the major broadcast networks in the United States now have websites which provide subscribers with downloadable files of selected programs.

Cable and wire distributed shows, along with most movies, will be copyright protected and you would download at your own risk. Different studios have different policies, and some do aggressively prosecute, while others consider it good advertising. However, unless explicitly stated, they are covered by copyright protection.

NOW: PLEASE NOTE - I am not in the legal profession, and the above represents my opinion.