The Torrent Dilemma


Bit Torrent, one of the companies I am a big fan of made a joint announcement with the Motion Picture Association of America that it would no feature any illegal searches via its search engine, and will also work with the Hollywood doyens to distribute movies etc.

It is a well intentioned announcement, but as Xeni Jardin points out over on Wired News, this is actually nothing. Techdirt says that it “won’t do anything to stop piracy.”Brad Hill, over at The Digital Music weblog sums it up best, when he writes, “Cohen takes his medicine.” He sees shades of Napster agreements here, which obviously didn’t work.

I see a bit more trouble looming – the more Bit Torrent goes legit, the more users it will lose, becoming less and less important as a distribution network. It happened in 2005, when the MPAA cracked down on major torrent tracker sites. The file swappers moved on to eDonkey. The next generation P2P networks are already evolving. Freenet is a good example. So here in lies the Catch-22: to be legit or not to be legit.

Update: Mike and Brian point out that the decision to go legit will impact the company not the protocol. They are right, however I wonder if this does create some confusion in the minds of users who only know Bit Torrent, the website. I think it would be great for Cachelogic or others who track the P2P traffic to do breakout of the torrent clients. I did want to point out that as the MPAA cracked down on various torrent sites, the traffic shifted to other networks. In other words, genie is finding new bottles, and then breaking them-up …. okay now I go and be jolly for rest of the evening.


Digitaler Film » Blog Archive » Legale Filmdownloads mit BitTorrent?

[…] Während im Hause Warner auf spezielle Software gesetzt wird, bedienen sich andere Anbieter “etablierter” P2P Technologien. Vor allem BitTorrent bietet sich für die P2P Auslieferung von Filmdownloads an, weil es die Last geschickt verteilt und damit bei vielen Anfragen schneller und nicht langsamer wird. Nachdem der Gründer Bram Cohen $ 8,5 Millionen an venture Kapital für seine Firma BitTorrent gesammelt hatte, schaffte er letztes Jahr auch noch den Schulterschluss mit den Hollywoodstudios (der MPAA): er entfernt alle Links zu illegalen Filmdownloads von seiner Seite. Deshalb ist er mittlerweile ein gern gesehener Partner, wenn es um den P2P Vertrieb geht. Erste Gehversuche mit BitTorrent unternahm die BBC bereits im Jahr 2004. Nun ist sie soweit und testet ihr Konzept mit 5000 Kunden in Großbritannien. Doch nicht nur die BBC setzt auf BitTorrent, sondern auch NTL (ein Kabelbetreiber in GB). NTL will über BitTorrent Filme und Musikvideos verkaufen. Dazu startet nächsten Monat eine Probephase mit ca. 100 Haushalten. Um die Last von den Netzen der Internetprovider zu nehmen will NTL durch den Anbieter CacheLogic beliebte Dateien auf Servern zwischenspeichern. […]

Om Malik on Broadband : » BitTorrent does legal P2P with NTL

[…] ntl, a UK-based cable broadband company is teaming up with BitTorrent and Cachelogic to conduct a technical trial to evaluate ultra high-speed, legal video downloads in the UK. The trial download service will feature a large amount of licensed broadcast quality video content including popular movies, music videos and television programmes. As part of the trial, Cachelogic’s P2P content cache devices will be deployed in ntl network and will accelerate delivery of the content. BitTorrent client will be used for distribution. If this works, this could have huge implications for legal video distribution. This will also help legitimize BitTorrent, and give a big leg-up to company’s plans to distribute legal content. Clearly media players are beginning to realize that P2P is not going away, and trying to harness the technology’s potential to meet their own ends. Recently Time Warner (Germany) and AOL announced plans to tap P2P for video distribution. […]


I’ve been fantasizing about torrent radio and video broadcasts for the little folk that can’t afford large bandwidth. “Realtime and previous” shows with tiny bandwidth. Create a proprietry player based on VLC, Bittorrent and micropayments or subscription… Makes me wonder why Peercast isn’t more popular.


Cohen and Ashwin are smart and honest guys. Qudos to them for bringing some legitimacy to P2P

Big Bit Torrent Announcement

I am amazed at how much press the MPAA/Bit Torrent deal received. I am sure it makes the MPAA feel all warm and fuzzy, but I believe the impact on piracy will be minimal. Just check out the chart below. TorrentSpy’s has much more traffic than …

The Bay Area Is Talking

Too Legit to Bit?

I posted about this earlier.. the deal that Bit Torrent made with the MPAA promising you won’t be able to download pirated musics on the service. Now Om Malik weighs in on the deal, agreeing with Xeni Jardin, TechDirt, and…

Om Malik

mike, you are absolutely right about that. as an aside, i wonder if the commonality of the name of the torrent protocol and the company will create confusion in the minds of less savvy users who are likely to end up at the

Mike Masnick

Yeah, it seems like a lot of people are confusing BitTorrent the protocol and BitTorrent the company. This agreement just impacts BitTorrent the company, which has little to do with most of the infringement using BitTorrent the protocol.


Cohen’s version of Bittorrent is one of many other (IMHO better) open source versions. As long as those remain unaffected, and there is no reason why they won’t continue to be, Bittorrent as a company may wither and die, but as a protocol, it will remain strong, useful and popular.

Sunil Chhaya

And I thought that Shakespear wrote Hamlet way before Catch-22 was written;)

Tor from Opera

As the first browser to include BitTorrent support, we’re following these developments closely. BitTorrent is a great protocol that fits naturally with the other download protocols we support in the Opera browser (user feedback has been great). So chances are the BitTorrent protocol will survive and thrive on the merit of its quality alone.


I thought the agreement was a sham when I first heard about it the day it was signed, and said so on my blog. As for going legit making the network less useful, I guess maybe Bram is hoping that he can find a saw-off between fewer (copyright-infringing) users and maybe more revenue.

Hey look — we’re winning! Honest!

There’s a story on the Associated Press wire about an agreement reached between the Motion Picture Association of America and BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen & and after reading about three sentences it becomes obvious that the primary inten…

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