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Abstract

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks have emerged as a significant social phenomenon for the distribution of information goods and may become an important alternative to traditional client-server network architectures for knowledge sharing within enterprises. This paper reviews and synthesizes the relevant computer science and economics literatures as they relate to P2P networks, and raises important questions for researchers interested in studying the behavior of these networks from the perspective of the economics of information technology. With regard to the economic characteristics of these networks, we show that while the characteristics of services provided over P2P networks are similar to public goods and club goods, they have many important differences and hence there is a need for new theoretical models as well as empirical and experimental analysis to understand P2P user behavior. We then identify several important areas for study with regard to the economics of P2P networks and review recent academic papers in each area.

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