Wil Wheaton Reminds Us That Torrents Are Awesome, And Not Just For Pirated Movies

from the targeting-the-tool dept

The conflation of tools and technologies with the ways people use them is a big problem in the copyright debate. One of the many, many examples is the way the anti-piracy crowd treats "torrent" as a dirty word. Google endorsed this last year when they started dropping it from their search autocomplete results, and as Mike pointed out at the time, just imagine they had done the same with "mp3" a few years ago when that was supposedly synonymous with piracy. Defenders of this kind of filtering don't take such a forward-thinking stance, and their typical response in the torrent debate is to assert that the majority of BitTorrent traffic is likely infringing. Of course, that's not really the point: you don't look at the ratio of infringing use to legal use, but rather at the legal use by itself—if it's substantial and meaningful, then you have to go after the infringing users, not the technology as a whole.

Torrents have many legitimate uses. BitTorrent is simply a good protocol for sharing large files with large groups—they are perfect for films, video games, music and of course software. Linux distros are a commonly cited example, since they are always available by (perfectly legal) torrent, but this is often brushed off as if it's an excuse and torrents are not really necessary for this. Geek icon Wil Wheaton puts a bullet in this notion with a recent post on his blog, clearly demonstrating why he turned to BitTorrent for a copy of Ubuntu:

One of the things that drives me crazy is the belief in Hollywood that bittorrent exists solely for stealing things. Efforts to explain that this is not necessarily true are often met with hands clamped tightly over ears, accompanied by "I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA."

As an example of the usefulness of bittorrent for entirely legal purposes, I present the following comparitive images:



In case you can't see, the torrent is going about six times faster than a direct download, needing less than 10 minutes as compared to nearly 45. It's a simple example, but an effective one: P2P sharing is simply better sometimes. Google prides itself of directing people to the best possible information, but when their users start searching for the latest version of Ubuntu or the new Counting Crows album, they won't see autocomplete suggestions for this perfectly legal (and potentially superior) means of obtaining what they want. Seems like that runs directly counter to Google's mission. It may only be a minor annoyance, but it's also pointless, and it will only get worse as more and more people embrace torrents for legitimate distribution.



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  1.  
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    Kirion (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 5:16am

    Blizzard for a long time uses bittorrent to distribute game clients and updates. It's efficient.

     

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  2.  
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    William Chambers, May 16th, 2012 @ 5:21am

    But...

    But but...Piracy!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 5:31am

    seems like he is trying to preach to the converted. it's the old farts of 70 years or more in government and in the entertainment industries that need this pointing out to them YET AGAIN!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 5:36am

    And now that Cyanogenmod and other Android ROM developers are starting to also release their ROMs through torrents, it's just great!

    Especially since most of their previous ways of releasing have been cut off to U.S. citizens. Namely file lockers have been shut down, despite having perfectly legitimate uses.

    I for one won't get any Linux distro if I can't get it through torrents. The example above is a perfect reason why. It's just way faster and even if there's a hiccup while downloading, it picks up where it lefts off. As opposed to having to start the entire direct download over again from scratch.

     

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  5.  
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    Philip (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 5:40am

    Re:

    Came here to say exactly this. A lot of new market games developers are doing the same, too.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 5:40am

    A similar experience: Xenonauts Kickstarter demo had two direct download links and a torrent link. I tried out both direct download links first, and got a blazing fast 20-40 KB/s download speeds, and with the demo about a gigabyte in size, well, that would have taken quite a while... So I turned to the torrent and got a constant ~2MB/s download speed. As as a result, I got around to testing the demo a lot faster than I initially expected!

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Chicken, May 16th, 2012 @ 5:48am

    Re:

    I guess experience with torrents varies a lot. I've tried downloading game and software releases, and a few other things, by torrent and have never once had a download approach the speed of a direct download - even a pathetically slow one.

     

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  8.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 5:48am

    It is basic common sense. Any technology that makes life easier for legitimate uses will be abused for illegitimate purposes. Vans are used to transport goods but they are also used in drugs trafficking and robberies; does that mean that vans should be illegal? No!

    Now, torrents are used by open source software developers and independent musicians and film makers to distribute their content as they see fit but they are also used to distribute material that infringes copyright; does that mean that torrents should be illegal? No!

    Hollywood would do well to realise this and use torrents to their advantage.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 5:48am

    glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    hes not a geek icon.

     

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    dr Evil, May 16th, 2012 @ 5:55am

    homage to Family Guy - the true center of the universe

    remember to pronounce it correctly

    wwwill wwwheaton

    with an extra wha on the first www and an extra whee on the second

     

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  11.  
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    fairuse (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 5:55am

    Money + Powers-That-Be = your idea is heresy

    Galileo Galilei pushed on the force field of dogma until a deal was struck. Shut up, stay in your room and think about the damage your ideas and tools have done.

    Something like that; if you abridged the whole mess. SSDD

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 5:58am

    Re:

    Bear in mind that those same old farts are still wondering what MB/s means...

     

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  13.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 6:09am

    Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    Considering that he's one of the loudest open critics of Westley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the character he played, I think he's pretty much a geek icon.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    He'll always be Gordy searching for a dead body to me....

     

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  15.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re:

    Either your ISP is throttling traffic over the ports that are commonly used for torrents, or you're getting unpopular torrents.

    Last Sunday's Game of Thrones 1.3GB episode downloaded in less time it took to walk downstairs, nuke something in the microwave, and walk back up.

     

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  16.  
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    justok (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 6:21am

    Re: Money + Powers-That-Be = your idea is heresy

    hmmm, Galileo had alliterative abbreviations, and so does Wil Wheaton. Coincidence????

     

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  17.  
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    TDR, May 16th, 2012 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I believe that unpredictability is what he was referring to. Torrent download speeds aren't exactly predictable, it's all dependent on how many seeds there are, whereas that of a direct download is usually constant. And there aren't always torrents with lots of seeds for what a person may be looking for, which makes the direct download a better option in those cases. Not saying torrents aren't good, they are, they just have a bit of a random factor in them that makes their reliability a bit hard to predict at times.

     

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  18.  
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    Forest_GS (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re:

    There are even some people that don't know there is a difference between MB/s and Mb/s. (megabytes(1024kb) and megabits(125kb)
    Currently only companies selling internet use megabits, to make the speed seem larger. They should let megabit die already.

     

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  19.  
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    IronM@sk, May 16th, 2012 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No. You just need to find the right tracker. Every private tracker I know has blazingly fast download speeds from the swarm, because they have rules that promote sharing, and police them. Public trackers can be hit and miss speedwise sometimes, but that is more than made up for the fact that you can get ANYTHING YOU WANT. IN ONE PLACE! It doesn't matter how long it takes.

     

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  20.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 6:50am

    Re: homage to Family Guy - the true center of the universe

    Family Guy sucks.

    You should be ashamed to bring it up in conversation.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 6:57am

    Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    Beyond saying "Geek icon Will Wheaton", nothing in the article was glorifying him. The article is instead focusing on the fact that torrents have many legitimate and legal uses and that much more is distributed through them than pirated movies (as the headline states).

    The fact that you make a personal attack against Will Wheaton rather than address any other point in the article says a lot about you. MAKING AD HOMS ABOUT PEOPLE IS MUCH MORE PATHETIC, than glorifying them for whatever reason.

    And sorry to say, Will Wheaton is very much a geek icon. If you look at his list of works a very large amount of it would be considered "geeky".

     

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  22.  
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    Fox, May 16th, 2012 @ 7:14am

    The daily news show Democracy Now also distributes by torrent, among its various free formats. Highly topical hourlong audio/video files that lots of people want for a limited window of time plus a platform that offers very fast download speeds on things a lot of people want while a lot of people want them, makes sense to me.

     

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  23.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 7:19am

    Re:

    Not just Blizzard; but most MOBA games do, as well as RIFT, SW:TOR. It's the toll du jour for MMOs everywhere.

     

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  24.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 7:21am

    Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    Oh, hey, Sheldon. How is that crazy going for you?

     

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  25.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re: Money + Powers-That-Be = your idea is heresy

    No, Wil Wheaton is NOT Galileo. He is The Wesley Crusher.

     

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  26.  
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    johnny canada, May 16th, 2012 @ 7:31am

    So Wil, download Ubuntu operating system.

    That is just plain theft

    He should have paid for a full version of Windows.

    (Sarcasm off)

     

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  27.  
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    alex (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 7:43am

    Who are "the anti-piracy crowd"?

     

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  28.  
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    Jeff (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    "I'm not crazy... My mother had me tested!"

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 7:49am

    ...will...?

     

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  30.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 7:51am

    Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    Sorry. What brief introduction would satisfy you here?

    Noted nerd? Actor/author? Big Bang Theory guest star? Former obnoxious-space-genius-with-magic-powers?

     

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  31.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 7:55am

    Re:

    Who are "the anti-piracy crowd"?

    Can't you tell? It's a pretty loud crowd. Start with RIAA, MPAA and BSA and work outwards from there.

     

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  32.  
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    Greg G (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    I'm not crazy. My mother had me tested.

     

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  33.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 8:06am

    Re:

    You'll find them stealing from the artists any way they can in order to line their pockets with money. Which would be fine, if they didn't act like a protection racket:

    "Hice art you have there. Be a shame if something were to happen to it..."

    It doesn't help that Law students seem to see it as easy money, too.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Currently only companies selling internet use megabits, to make the speed seem larger."

    Actually, us in networking (which includes, yeah, companies selling Internet access) do use megabits all the time. Witness wired Ethernet speeds (10 megabits/s, 100 megabits/s, 1 gigabit/s, ...), wireless speeds (54 megabits/s, 150 megabits/s, 300 megabits/s, ...), and many many others.

    It also makes sense technically: the fundamental unit of information being transfered is the bit, not the byte.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:12am

    Re: Re: homage to Family Guy - the true center of the universe

    Two words why family guy most certainly does not suck: cool hwip.

     

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  36.  
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    Chargone (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 8:13am

    Re: Money + Powers-That-Be = your idea is heresy

    ... Galileo was a terrible scientist who got in trouble not for his science, but for generally being a dick, particularly to those in power. (if you look into it, you find that while his conclusions about the whole earth/sun thing were right, his theories were actually nonsense and his research was poorly done. assuming i'm remembering rightly.)

    i'll say that again: he got into trouble over politics completely unrelated to the science, and his science was bad Anyway.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:19am

    Re: Re:

    Humble Indie bundle distributes the bundle games over BitTorrent as well as over Steam.

    Which brings me to another point: distributing load.

    Bittorrent is great for distributing the load of a release, so that one server isn't taking the whole brunt of the distribution of the files being released. Ubuntu can release it on their server and BitTorrent at the same time, or any other company, and reduce bandwidth costs and server load. Its another one of the great things about BitTorrent as a protocol.

    This can be crucial for smaller companies, if they are paying for the amount of bandwidth they use in a month. One popular release could drain a bank account. In the case of the Indie Bundle, I certainly choose the BitTorrent option, hoping to save the Humble Bundle guys some cash so they can put out more great bundles.

    It is a great technology that takes full advantage of the protocols and standards the internet is based on.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:19am

    Re:

    Cause car dealers to starve because people can just dowload them off the tubes.

     

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  39.  
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    alex (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re:

    Does it extend to all copyright holders that don't distribute their works freely over torrents?

     

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  40.  
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    alex (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re:

    Anyway, sorry. I'm being a bit pedantic.

    I don't actually see anything wrong with google removing "torrent" from the auto-suggest thingy. I don't think it constitutes an attack on bittorrent as a technology.

    If the majority of torrent traffic is infringing copyright (which I don't think anyone is doubting) than the trade-off is a good one imo.

    It makes it /slightly/ harder to find the 5% of legal torrents and /slightly/ harder to find the 95% of infringing ones.

     

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  41.  
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    JEDIDIAH, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:36am

    It's not just the whales, it's the water.

    The bytes might also require added overhead and more bits. Merely dividing the bigger number by 8 might not adequately characterize the situation.

     

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  42.  
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    Robert Shaver, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:38am

    On-line classes use bitorrent

    I've taken classes from FXPHD. They require that I download many class videos and project videos via bitTorrent.

    It's the perfect solution. Each week, for ten weeks (with a minimum of four classes), all the students download their class files. Since they are all downloading at nearly the same time, the band width is shared among all the students in the class.

    This lets the school keep their bandwidth costs down as well.

     

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  43.  
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    JEDIDIAH, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    If you want to be really pedantic, you could merely refer to him as a prominent geek. He's the kind of guy that is likely to attend your con. You'll probably find him in the gaming room.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:41am

    Re: Money + Powers-That-Be = your idea is heresy

    No. Galileo was just a guy that had problems dealing with people socially. He was a Sheldon. That has as much to do with how the Catholic Church reacted to him as anything else.

    Imagine Sheldon arguing with the Pope and you get the basic idea.

     

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  45.  
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    llortotevoli, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re:

    People can tell that you're lying when you have to make up acronyms to prove your point. Those games obviously don't exist, so they can't actually be using Bit Torrent to distribute updates.

     

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  46.  
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    varagix, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:47am

    Re: Re: Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    He was at Gencon when I went in 2010. He's actually a pretty cool guy. Must be a Trekkie thing to complain about him.

     

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  47.  
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    Tyson, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:51am

    Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    uh...yes...he is.
    he may not be to YOU, in particular, but to many of us, he's very much a geek icon.
    From his work on TNG, to his excellent blog, to his work with the gaming community, Wootstock, his amazing keynotes for Pax, etc etc....I can't think of many other folks that have done as much for the geek community as good ol Wesley Crusher.

    You may not like him, but he is unquestionably a geek.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    Critic of the character he played? That sound like fun.

    Can I get a link from you?

     

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  49.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    Re: It's not just the whales, it's the water.

    If you change "might" to "will", then this is exactly correct. Network speeds are measured by how many bits the network can send in a given period of time. Some of those bits, by necessity, are used for control purposes and do not contain the actual data that users care about. Some of those bits don't even count as part of header bytes (containing things like the address the data is going to), but are used for signalling, error correction, and the like.

     

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  50.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No.

     

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  51.  
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    Liz (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Steam itself uses bittorrent protocols to distribute software.

     

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  52.  
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    VMax, May 16th, 2012 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Money + Powers-That-Be = your idea is heresy

    I would pay real money to see that.

     

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  53.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So instead of typing in "Ubuntu" and then arrowing down one or two suggestions to the "Ubuntu torrent" suggestion, I now have to fully type "Ubuntu torrent".

    In the case of copyright infringement, instead of typing in "Hurt Locker" and arrowing down a few suggestions for "Hurt Locker torrent" I now have to type in "Hurt Locker torrent".

    Ooooooh. Look how much arder it is to infringe copyright.

     

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  54.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not to mention that most people who are searching Google for copyrighted content are more likely to search for things like "Hurt Locker online" or "hurt Locker free" So killing the suggestion for a single file type is more than useless.

     

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  55.  
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    drew (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Alex, I don't really get this, do you think that, for someone who is technically proficient enough to know how to use torrents, removing them from the google auto-complete is going to make any difference to their usage?
    It's not going to stop someone typing in "torrent" at the end of the suggested auto-complete

     

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  56.  
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    Cameron, May 16th, 2012 @ 9:47am

    Re:

    Yes, i am finding this out the hard way, with my university blocking torrent downloads.... i just wanna play diablo.,

     

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  57.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: homage to Family Guy - the true center of the universe

    Family Guy mostly does suck now. But - those "hwhi" exchanges between Brian and Stewie are one of the bits that can still send me into uncontrollable giggles at the right moment...

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Monkey (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) [new genre]
    RIFT is a MMORPG game: RIFT
    as well as SW:TOR (Star Wars: The Old Republic): SW:TOR

    Google/Startpage/[your fav search engine here] is your friend!

     

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  59.  
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    Ed C., May 16th, 2012 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Troll fail...

     

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  60.  
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    tqk (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, us in networking (which includes, yeah, companies selling Internet access) do use megabits all the time. Witness wired Ethernet speeds (10 megabits/s, 100 megabits/s, 1 gigabit/s, ...), wireless speeds (54 megabits/s, 150 megabits/s, 300 megabits/s, ...), and many many others.

    It also makes sense technically: the fundamental unit of information being transfered is the bit, not the byte.

    ... which is why you shouldn't be bothering with all those esoteric terms. They're too easy to obfuscate.

    A byte is traditionally 8, 16, 32, or 64 "bits" (1 or 0). For multiples, we tack on "Systeme International" (SI) prefixes. "kilo" == 1,000 (eg. 1000 meters in a kilometer). "mega" == 1,000,000.

    A kilobyte is 1024 bits, *because* 'echo "2^10" | bc' ==
    1024
    (which is close to 1,000). Similarly, a Megabyte is 2^20 bits or 1048576.

    So endeth the lesson. :-)

     

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  61.  
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    tqk (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 10:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A kilobyte is 1024 bits ...

    Sorry, 1024 bytes.

     

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  62.  
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    alex (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think that there's a certain amount of tact that can be exercised with it, and in this case, it's appropriate to do so...

    Google's auto-suggest algorithm presumably works by looking at the most commonly searched-for combinations of words, and obviously lots of people download torrents of copyright works, but to suggest "torrent" in the auto-suggest box is a bit like rubbing it in the faces of people that are looking for that content legally. It officially states that more people are looking for the thing for free, than are paying for it, and psychologically, that encourages some people to do what everyone else is doing. Some people may not have even considered not paying for it until they see "torrent" in the auto-suggest.

    I appreciate that bit-torrent is a viable way to distribute all sorts of legal content and I understand that there's a trade-off, but the truth is that the vast majority of torrents are distributing copyright content, so as I said before, I think the trade-off is worthwhile.

     

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    tqk (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 10:29am

    Re:

    I for one won't get any Linux distro if I can't get it through torrents.

    Actually, Debian prefers we use jigdo which is a lot like torrents but even easier on repos. It works pretty well.

     

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  64.  
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    AzureSky (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    then your lucky a few privates I know that tend to have good stuff also tend to have fairly slow speeds on alot of torrents due to swarm size.

    on the other hand a few semiprivate trackers im part of tend to have better speeds despite poor ratio tracking and little or no ratio requirements.

    protip: look at swarm size, if the ratio of seeds to peers is Low:High, speeds likely will be bad, if they are close or Hith:low (seeds:peers) you will likely get good speeds.

     

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  65.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    but to suggest "torrent" in the auto-suggest box is a bit like rubbing it in the faces of people that are looking for that content legally.

    You seem to have missed the entire point. Torrents are not automatically illegal. There is plenty of content, including copyrighted content, available for free, legitimately, by torrent. And yet you still think that the mere mention of the word is "rubbing it in the faces of people that are looking for that content legally".

    It officially states that more people are looking for the thing for free, than are paying for it, and psychologically, that encourages some people to do what everyone else is doing

    People don't need social pressure to prefer getting stuff for free over paying for it. And what if they are looking for content that they already know is free - like the latest Ubuntu linux, as is the example here? They won't get the suggestion that "hey, there's a way to download this that might be much faster"

    Some people may not have even considered not paying for it until they see "torrent" in the auto-suggest.

    Again, stop assuming that the only use for a torrent is not paying for things.

     

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  66.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Does it extend to all copyright holders that don't distribute their works freely over torrents?

    No, not at all. But it extends to all copyright holders who dedicate significant resources to a futile fight against piracy, or who push for stronger copyright enforcement laws at the expense of all else, or who rant and rave about piracy in public statements, or who use piracy as an excuse for their business troubles, or who place pressure on someone like Google to filter "torrent" from autocomplete, or who get terrified of every new technology and act as though it is dedicated to piracy when in fact it has lots of legitimate uses...

     

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  67.  
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    Manuel Algaba Cortés, May 16th, 2012 @ 10:52am

    Great post

    Great Post and great example with Ubuntu. A direct download for a new version of Ubuntu may take ages, much more than 45 minutes, while the same file will need a few minutes with torrent.
    The point is that the word "torrent" is not politically correct and you are right, it's not strictly related to piracy.

     

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    llortotevoli, May 16th, 2012 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Don't try to go back and make up things to go with the acronyms. That's just sad.

     

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    llortotevoli, May 16th, 2012 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I caught someone with my bait. Doesn't seem like much of a fail to me. Thanks for playing though, buddy.

     

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    JoeCool (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You need lessons for your lessons. :)

    A byte has NEVER been "traditionally" anything but 8 bits. NEVER. A "word" may vary depending on the architecture of the CPU; for example, Motorola (on the 680x0 family) calls a word 16 bits, while IBM (on the Power/PowerPC family) calls it 32 bits. The two main measures of binary data are:

    nibbles: 4 bits
    bytes: 8 bits
    words: 16 bits
    longs: 32 bits
    quads: 64 bits

    and

    nibbles: 4 bits
    bytes: 8 bits
    halfwords: 16 bits
    words: 32 bits
    doublewords: 64 bits


    In any case, however people try to justify using bits for networking, they're still trying to justify ripping off the end user. All the end user cares about is how much REAL data he can send or receive... how many BYTES per second the file downloads at. None of the rest matters. Adding in all the overhead is ANOTHER way of trying to rip off the end user since they're advertising bits that don't go towards his download rate. It's marketing at its finest... that is, at its WORST at deception.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re:

    u were firewalled. almost guaranteed.

     

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  72.  
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    bpr, May 16th, 2012 @ 11:38am

    Blizzard

    Even blizzard uses P2P to get the 7.6gb around for Diablo3.

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: homage to Family Guy - the true center of the universe

    Yeah...

    And I own the copyright on the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Face it, the show sucks so hard that it's surprising that anyone can stand to watch it anymore.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    All the end user cares about is how much REAL data he can send or receive... how many BYTES per second the file downloads at. None of the rest matters. Adding in all the overhead is ANOTHER way of trying to rip off the end user since they're advertising bits that don't go towards his download rate.


    You would have a point if there was an easy way to predict what that actual data rate is in terms of payload data. But there's not. The amount of overhead can and does vary for a lot of reasons.

    The only accurate way to relate the speed of the underlying network is through bits per second. Do try and do it the way you suggest would not only be very inaccurate (and easier for unscrupulous companies to fudge) but it would make comparing the rates between different services much more uncertain.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Amen, brother. I'm currently using a 3G USB modem, and at most, I'm only getting 2.3% of the advertised maximum speed (7.2Mbps, which translates to about 920 kilobytes).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    If the majority of torrent traffic is infringing copyright (which I don't think anyone is doubting) than the trade-off is a good one imo.

    Hi, I think you must be new here. A LOT of people around here doubt that the majority of torrent traffic is infringing. Besides this, torrents aren't illegal. Why try to hide all the legal content that is provided through torrents in a silly, useless gesture at trying to hide the illegal?

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re:

    Is that why I had to go to The Pirate Bay to find a Debian torrent?

     

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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Meh, this is a silly argument. Bytes are just as relevant as bits for measuring anything appropriate. Saying otherwise is like saying your speedometer should be rated in meters instead of kilometers per hour because it's more precise. It's pedantic at best since once you start adding prefixes to a unit, precision of that degree is rarely useful on a human level. How many nanometers in a lightyear?

    The actually useful argument to be had is 1000 vs. 1024 for prefixes in data measurements. Personally, I have to stick with base 2 because mebibyte just sounds retarded.

     

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  79.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    I find it slightly interesting that he was in a movie and played Gordie LaChance, then he was on a ship with a guy named Geordi La Forge.

     

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    Unknowledgeable geek, May 16th, 2012 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    This article is for a reason torrents should be legal, so when a comment of when I downloaded the latest Game of Thrones enters the discussion it makes this argument pointless. A group of people can't even talk about it being used for legal purposes without someone stating a reason to use it is to download something that is copyrighted. :(

     

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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: homage to Family Guy - the true center of the universe

    They used that joke in the movie "Hot Rod" with Andy Samberg...I wonder who came up with it first?

     

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    BeeAitch (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, their large images (CDs and DVDs) are available directly from their site via bittorrent. ;)

     

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  83.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Re: glorifying will wheaton is pathetic

    Plus his work with Felicia Day at Geek and Sundry. GO SUBSCRIBE NOW!

     

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    Ruquay Calloway (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    LibreOffice: faster to download uTorrent, then LibreOffice

    I needed to download LibreOffice for my dad. It was quicker to first download µTorrent, then LibreOffice via torrent, than to download LibreOffice directly from the website. Also, as in your example, I used torrent to download the latest Ubuntu release... it makes such a difference!

     

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  85.  
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    Anonymous 314159, May 16th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Distributing load

    And this may be one of the reasons why the big industry doesn't like it: it allows smaller players into the market.

     

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  86.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re:

    Pretty much any F2P (free-to-play) MMORPG these days is the same, specially using optimized software software like Pando Media Booster and Akamai Network Interface.

    They're basic a single-purpose torrent client that routes you to the peers closer to you speeding up the download a lot, and then when your pc is idle those softwares seed the game file. It pretty much reduces costs by replacing the need of maintaining a dedicated storage server for the cheaper way of keeping a seedbox and spreading the download with your players globally.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's actually not just a change in units (bits vs bytes), as at the level of networking we're talking about, things don't divide into bytes.

    It's like in the old modem days, when the usual configuration added two bits of overhead for each byte transmitted. So, usually, a byte would equal 10 bits -- but not always, depending on the combination of start/stop/parity bits negotiated between the modems. A modem manufacturer couldn't accurately say how many bytes could be transmitted per second as they couldn't know how many bits would be in a byte.

    Conceptually, similar things are happening with the various network hardware (ethernet, fiber, whatever) used today.

     

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    Pants, May 16th, 2012 @ 3:22pm

    Re:

    They don't use bittorrent, but yes they do use an optional p2p service.

     

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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Eh, mostly I think they just liked being able to put larger numbers on the box.

     

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    Cowardly Anonymous, May 16th, 2012 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    When light has to go back and re-traverse that last nanometer because it didn't seem right (dropped a corrupt packet in TCP), your argument will stand.

    Not only is the number and length of all headers unknown to the network (end-to-end principle at work), but the number of times it will have to send a packet to ensure transmission is as well. Even assuming no corruption with only the one user, someone other company could drop your packets.

    The network layer simply cannot say what the application layer will see. All it can do is promise so many bits of data per second.

    Of course, they could report the number as bytes (divide by 8) and it may be more honest for them to do so, but it would still have all the overhead wrapped up in it. That is simply not going anywhere.

     

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  91.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, May 16th, 2012 @ 6:45pm

    Re: Galileo was a terrible scientist ...

     

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  92.  
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    SomeGuy, May 16th, 2012 @ 7:14pm

    Re:

    Yeah league of legends (the online game) used a small p2p software that allows users to share the download. Not much users no about it but a few kb of upload is not a big deal

     

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  93.  
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    Shadeyone, May 16th, 2012 @ 7:30pm

    A road is not the same thing as the car that drives on it

    I think the main problem is that BitTorrent is associated immediately with stolen files, free things that others think you should pay for and dirty pictures.

    What it is, is a transportation system for files and data, that's it. Since the files are called torrents, it's associated with the system. The files can be useful, time-wasting, illegal or malicious. But the same can be said for anything you regularly download off the internet, so you know what, we should probably get rid of the internet so you don't hurt yourself with those evil data packets out there.

    There's a bad driver out there who gets drunk, gets in his/her car, drives on the road and hits someone. Do we stop using roads, do we shut down streets and freeways becasue they are dangerous, do we condemn car manufacturers for creating this vehicle(data file)? No, we condemn and prosecute the person who operated the vehicle (the creator of the data file or torrent file). But only him, we don't do that to all the good drivers out there driving safely.

    I know, Iknow, but Shadey Hollywood and others go after the dirty, rotten stinking pirates out there, aren't they trying to keep us safe? You can argue about that, but they don't do it the same way we do in every other situation, why do they get a free ride? Is it because they brought us classics like Gigli, Troll 2, From Justin to Kelly, Santa Claus conquers the Martians and many others great cinematic gems?

    I guess the point I was trying to make at the beginning of this before it got away from me, is that BitTorrent as a system is not illegal, it is not wrong and it is not damaging. It is a tool, a tool that is useful and one of the best options out there right now. To not use it is incredibly stupid and puts you behind others who use it to their business advantage.

    Further proof that the protocol has a place, the creator has been working to adapt it for live video streaming to cut costs.

    http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/13/bittorrent-live/

     

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  94.  
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    Samuel Abram (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 7:44pm

    More websites that distribute legal torrents

    I can think of more web sites that legally distribute torrents. Here are some:



    Those are some legal torrents off the top of my head. If it didn't take me that much time to think of legal torrents, maybe that says more about the *AAs than the people who actually download the torrents.

     

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  95.  
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    May, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:05pm

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2010/07/only-03-of-files-on-bit-torrent-confirmed-to-be-legal/

    Umm yeah, considering it failed to pass one of the most basic statistic test of 5% significance by a large margin, I can say that the torrents are not used to distribute legal files.

     

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  96.  
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    Samuel Abram (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 8:07pm

    Re: Statistics

    It makes it /slightly/ harder to find the 5% of legal torrents and /slightly/ harder to find the 95% of infringing ones.


    You know that 65% of statistics are made-up, right?

     

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    Samuel Abram (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 8:21pm

    And to that I say...

    Of course, I must include Torrent Freak's response.

     

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  98.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 8:59pm

    Re: Re:

    Did you pay attention to the seed count?
    Also a factor is your ISP level of service, many in the US and some other countries do throttle bittorrent transfers by default.

     

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    Watchit (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, I think you were an excellent troll, Ilortotevoli :3

     

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    Watchit (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:49pm

    Re: homage to Family Guy - the true center of the universe

    Your taste in shows is bad, and you should feel bad :|

     

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  101.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 10:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Thank you! I try my best. It's always nice when it's appreciated.

     

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  102.  
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    alex (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 1:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    erm... ok, now you're being pedantic. =]

    Please allow me to add the following (in bold) to my last paragraph. I thought it was implied in the first place...

    I appreciate that bit-torrent is a viable way to distribute all sorts of legal content and I understand that there's a trade-off, but the truth is that the vast majority of torrents are distributing copyright content (without the permission of the copyright holder), so as I said before, I think the trade-off is worthwhile.

     

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    drew (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 2:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It doesn't make this discussion pointless at all. This article is pointing out (as are most of the comments) that torrents are a really effective way of sharing files, irrespective of their legality. The Game of Throne comment simply adds another data point.
    In the UK most* drivers speed on the motorway, but you don't argue that the solution is to remove motorways.
    The mechanism is not the problem, hence the solution is not to remove the mechanism.

    * If you don't believe me try sitting at 70 on a motorway and see how much traffic goes past you :¬)

     

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  104.  
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    alex (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 2:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You're joking, right?

    * Go to the pirate bay.
    * Browse torrents.
    * Pick any category.
    * Order the list by numbers of seeders or leechers (max first)
    * Try to find a non-infringing torrent on the first 5 pages.

    If you have doubts about whether the majority of torrent traffic is infringing, I think you may be slightly delusional.

     

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  105.  
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    alex (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 2:50am

    Re: Re: Statistics

    I picked those numbers out of the air. I wasn't suggesting they're accurate. I never realised before today anyone was in any doubt that the majority of torrents are infringing.

     

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  106.  
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    Samuel Abram (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Statistics

    I never realised before today anyone was in any doubt that the majority of torrents are infringing.


    I don't doubt it either. I do, however, doubt a 95-to-5-percent ratio of infringing to non-infringing uses.

     

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  107.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2012 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And you know they are infringing...how exactly? Are you psychic? Do you have precognitive law powers?

     

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  108.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2012 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    By the way, your report is two years old. Find some new spin to post, please.

     

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  109.  
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    Anonymous Daniel, May 17th, 2012 @ 10:23am

    I have seen real infringement... It aint torrenting a file

    I work in the television industry and have seen first hand what real infringement looks like. It is NOT someone wanting to watch an episode of "Game of Thrones". It is more along the lines of a producer getting ripped of by a former client who uses the producers work and calls it his own.

     

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  110.  
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    Austin, May 17th, 2012 @ 1:40pm

    New Law Bans Hammers Amidst Cries from Home Builders

    DECEMBER 1ST, 2019 - WASHINGTON, DC - It was a cold day in political hell as Jane's Law, a new bill passed by the house and senate and signed by the president earlier today, has officially banned the sale and use of all standard hammers in the United States today. The law was written and named after Jane Brown, the 45-year old mother and housewife who was bludgeoned to death during a home invasion nearly 2 years ago today. Advocates of the new law dismissed the claims of home builders and others stating "Hammers are a dangerous form of weaponry that cause hundreds of deaths each year. Jane's Law gives law enforcement a powerful new tool to save these lives." When we tried to reach the president of the American Homebuilders Association for comment, he said something inaudible, clearly intoxicated, then shot himself in the head. Professor James Gray at Harvard University, a proponent of the hand tools industry said, "Today really is a sad day for America and a true defeat for common sense. Yes, hammers can be used for malice. So can screwdrivers, drills, and virtually any other hand tool. Despite this, we have always recognized as a society that a tool, even one with potential to be misused by crafty criminals, also has the ability to be used to create houses, repair furniture, and even destroy things we actually should destroy." When asked for his view on the subject, Senator Ron Dewings had this to say: "This new law strikes a blow for freedom. American citizens will never again have to worry about a shadowy intruder in the night wielding one of these weapons of mass terror."

    The proceeding is a fake news report I generated both in an effort to finally achieve a "most insightful comment of the week" nod, and also to illustrate the key point here that many who would see BitTorrent banned seem to miss: You can punish behavior, but you cannot punish the tool. Any tool, every tool, all tools have the potential to be used for good. Even implements of torture can be used to craft leather belts. When you start to ban a tool rather than it's (mis)use, this is what you get. Do you really want us to go back to hammering houses together with a flat rock?

     

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  111.  
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    Samuel Abram (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 3:16pm

    Re: New Law Bans Hammers Amidst Cries from Home Builders

    Even implements of torture can be used to craft leather belts.


    Or for tools of Sado-masochism.

     

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  112.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2012 @ 10:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    LOL. I did what alex said for the music category, and here's the first 4 things sorted by # of seeders:

    1. Billy Van Dubstep Media Bundle
    2. Adele - 21 (Limited Edition CD-Rip @320kbps Bonus+Cov) [PRIME]
    3. drake - Take Care (Deluxe Version) [Official Album] [CD-Rip]
    4. Rihanna - Talk That Talk (Deluxe) [2011-Album][SW]

    The rest of the 1st page was content from more big name artists. So please tell me how these AREN'T infringing files. If you download a torrent to get out of paying for something, (like most other torrent users do) then at least admit it.

     

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  113.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2012 @ 10:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But torrents are a more effective way of distributing content, and I will not lie about that. (coming from a musician btw) Perhaps in the future there will be a way to ensure that only those who paid for a product can actually download it? Or better yet, what if it was required of all torrent sites to also include a link to purchase the product from the creator's website/ebay store/whatever? I am sure more people would pay after trying the product if it was that convenient.

     

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  114.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "So please tell me how these AREN'T infringing files."

    So please tell me how these ARE infringing files? Last I checked, copyright infringement meant copying without permission right? So how do you know they don't have permission?
    See, you're still acting like you have precognitive law powers, so I guess you must have them. Otherwise I don't see how you can know for sure they are infringing on anything.
    Lets take a look at your example, no:4
    Rihanna - Talk That Talk (Deluxe) [2011-Album][SW]
    How do you know this is "infringement"? Do you have proof it is? Are you Rihanna? Can you prove it, you know, in that place that proof is need for judgment to be handed down? A little place known as a court of law?

    If not, then we're talking about this being a case of "Guilty until proven innocent". In which case, you have some twisted views about how the world works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  115.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Listen, you can LOL all you want. You still haven't shown proof in a court of law.
    You do not have super judge laws powers. Or do you???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  116.  
    icon
    alex (profile), May 19th, 2012 @ 4:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's a fair point. How *do* we know that this torrent of a platinum selling album released on island def jam and distributed through universal and being sold in every major retailer is infringing?

    Actually, how do we know anything?


    *passes bong*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  117.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sure, lets all be judges and juries then right? Next time someone files a complaint against you in civil court about your car being stolen, we'll just confiscate your car first, and then maybe, if you can afford a lawyer, you can have it back.
    You stupid asshole.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  118.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2012 @ 8:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "So please tell me how these ARE infringing files? Last I checked, copyright infringement meant copying without permission right? So how do you know they don't have permission?"

    You are probably trolling, but whatever. I'll play along since you aren't even a funny troll. A COMPANY (aka, artist's label) made a PRODUCT (aka, album/song) with the intent of selling it to make a profit. So why would a company put their own product for free on a site called the PIRATE bay, then bitch about how piracy ruins sales? But then there's the whole issue of "HURR DURR HUR PERMISSIONZ!!!111" like you said...I think the link on TPB's site where they actually show all their legal letters can prove that they don't really have permission. If you are going to reply back to this, at least try to be a funny troll. ;) I might even vote your comment as funny if I'm feeling nice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  119.  
    identicon
    TheManInside, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    Torrents Rock !!

    My friend and I sometimes work together on large projects. Torrent makes it easier to transfer between us privately not to mention between a group of us. Nothing wrong with torrents and I totally agree with Wil on this. Thank you Wil for speaking up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  120.  
    identicon
    bnw, Jul 7th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    Torrents are definitely an awesome way to transfer information but people will always be looking at the positive vs. negative. There are studies about the effects of illegal sharing of copyrighted media and they've got a whole different story to tell... http://www.csulb.edu/colleges/cba/honors/thesis/documents/MatthiasDuennerThesis.pdf

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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