Free Riding on Gnutella
Eytan Adar and Bernardo A. Huberman

An extensive analysis of user traffic on Gnutella shows a significant amount of free riding in the system. By sampling messages on the Gnutella network over a 24-hour period, we established that almost 70% of Gnutella users share no files, and nearly 50% of all responses are returned by the top 1% of sharing hosts. Furthermore, we found out that free riding is distributed evenly between domains, so that no one group contributes significantly more than others, and that peers that volunteer to share files are not necessarily those who have desirable ones. We argue that free riding leads to degradation of the system performance and adds vulnerability to the system. If this trend continues copyright issues might become moot compared to the possible collapse of such systems.

Available as: Full paper, First Monday Oct. 2000 or PDF (9/19 version)

Adar, Eytan and Bernardo A. Huberman, "Free Riding on Gnutella," First Monday, October 2000,