Video: How the Networks Work

A core part of the project focuses on the way in which the different illicit technologies operated. The network designs played a key part in their own history and their wider role in the history of digital distribution.

Client/Server: Basic Downloading

We begin with a short video to illustrate of the basic way in which information transfer normally happens on the internet, with a server and a client.


Next we look at the first and most famous peer-to-peer network, and see how it evolved on the basic model by using a central server for indexing purposes rather than file delivery.


The first real decentralised peer-to-peer content network, GNUtella was the free and open system that followed Napster and is still in operation today.


The proprietary protocol behind Kazaa, Streamcast, and Grokster, the Fasttrack protocol echoed GNUtella in its design and also took on some of the improvements implemented since GNUtella’s original release.


The giant of peer-to-peer today, BitTorrent is the system used by the infamous site The Pirate Bay, and also is utilised in a variety of business implementations from distributing World of Warcraft to helping the backend of Facebook.