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Of BitTorrent Search & Possible Legal Problems

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MPAA has been dying to come-up with ways to sue Bit Torrent, its creator and others involved in pushing the p-2-p envelope. Unfortunately they have not had a chance. TechDirt’s Mike Masnick thinks that by developing a search engine for torrents, Bram Cohen and company could be now in the legal cross hairs of MPAA. (This news was a scoop for Wired News, my bad for not pointing it out earlier. My apologies to Kevin Poulsen!) (BT just mooned the MPAA whiners with its new trackerless client!) It is an interesting dilemma – how can you sue a search company? After all finding torrents right now is as easy as typing Star Wars Torrent into Google and finding the torrent files. Will this mean MPAA go after Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and every other search engines? Lets wait and watch. The new search engine goes live in 14 days. Search, i guess is part of growing up for Bit Torrent. Ashwin Navin, a former Yahoo strategist and a reformed investment banker is now COO of Bit Torrent.

11 Responses to “Of BitTorrent Search & Possible Legal Problems”

  1. For $1 per month OR $10 per year, we will Seed One (1) LEGAL Torrent of your choice of up to 100 MB. Once you are verified through PayPal you will be allowed to upload a torrent file to our server and we will begin to Leech it as soon as it passes Human Verification of being a LEGAL Torrent File. After we have Leached the entire Torrent we will become a 24/7 Seed for your Torrent. We will always be Seeding your Torrents for all your Lechers as a Second or Only Seed.

  2. Doc: Unfortunately guns are a special case because of that damned 2nd amendment, but even so, yes, the majority of guns are used for legal purposes.

    The argument is that guns are used for legitimate useful things every day and thus they should not be banned outright… only regulated. BitTorrent, however, up to this point, is really not used for many legitimate legal things at all. Yes, I know, there is some legal content out there, but if the ratio of legal-to-illegal activity of guns was the same as it is with BitTorrent, we’d be repealing the 2nd amendment in a heartbeat.

  3. Oh and with regards to the “majority use” of an item, lets look at it in a different viewpoint. Would you say use of guns is usually for lawful reasons or unlawful reasons? Sure, guns are heavily regulated by the Feds here in the US but that hasn’t stopped numerous unsavory types from getting guns illegally. I think one could safely safe that similar things would happen to torrents as well. I could be wrong however.

  4. “legal material” is highly subjective. Sure, youve got the WIPO treaty and all of that but different countries have different definitions of what is and is not legal material or use thereof. For a good example of this one has to just go look over the cease and desist letters that have been sent to and see how they responded to those threats of legal action.

  5. Generally, the “sueability” rule has gone as follows:

    If a service exists entirely or almost entirely to help people break the law, the courts have ruled against it. If a service exists for all sorts of reasons and one of them happens to facilitate the breaking of a law, courts have stayed away.

    This is why Napster was shut down and Hotline wasn’t. All activity on Napster (or at least 99% of it) revolved around the illegal distribution of music and that’s why it was so quickly and easily shut down. Hotline, on the other hand, was a breeding ground for much worse piracy than Napster (Adobe software, Microsoft software, movies, music, etc) but it didn’t receive the same sort of treatment because it was used for chatting, classroom collaboration, and all sorts of other legitimate purposes. This is the same reason why Google will likely not get sued for having links to illegal content in their search results.

    The key here to me is when and how BitTorrent will be used to distribute legal material. Yes, I know, you can already get plenty of legal stuff via BT, but let’s not kid ourselves… it’s not what most people are looking for. Until BitTorrent can prove itself as a legitimate avenue for distributing *legal* *desireable* content in high amounts, it will always have this stigma surrounding it in the eyes of the law.

  6. So this time you are the one forgetting to give credit to the scoop that happened on Wired News? Yet, you are quick to whine when you don’t get your credit disclaimed…