Yes, There Are Many, Many, Many, Many Legal Uses Of BitTorrent

from the too-legit-to-quit dept

When the VCR first came on the market, nearly 100% of the TV and movie content it was used for was "unauthorized," because the big studios refused to offer films. Of course, thankfully, the Supreme Court eventually made it clear that just because it was "unauthorized," it didn't mean that taping TV for later watching was "infringing." But, if the metric you used to judge whether or not a new technology is a "pirate technology" is what percentage of its use was "unauthorized," you get a very skewed picture. Early on, all sorts of new and innovative technologies are mostly used for unauthorized copies... until the industry catches up. However, people don't often deal with trends very well, and they assume, quite incorrectly, that if a technology is initially used in an unauthorized manner, it must be a "piracy tool" and no amount of discussing how trends and adaptation works will convince them otherwise. Lately, there has been plenty of talk about BitTorrent -- with a few cases here and there pointing out that a high percentage (usually over 90% of works are infringing). The argument being made is that there is little redeeming value with BitTorrent since it's almost exclusively used for infringement.

Of course, over time, things change. Content creators begin to embrace the new, realize that it might not be evil, and suddenly we see more and more interesting case studies. And that seems to be happening with BitTorrent. The recent MusicMetric analysis of BitTorrent downloads for the first six months of 2012 found that 31% of downloads were for authorized files. Now, you can argue that this is still less than half of all files -- but it's a big step up from the standard claims that somewhere between 1% and 10% were authorized. It seems quite likely that the trend is moving in the right direction.

In an effort to highlight just how much authorized content is shared using BitTorrent, Bittorrent Inc. put together a neat graphic representation of just one day's authorized downloads, creating a massive page that includes a single dot for every authorized download. We've put a snapshot of just a small portion of that image below this post... but that's really only a fragment. If you go to the full page, there's an awful lot of scrolling involved. And that's because it's showing 689,955 authorized downloads. In a single day. Not bad.

In case you're wondering who's actually offering up music that's getting downloaded like this, Eliot van Buskirk tracked down the top ten authorized music acts on BitTorrent, which turns up a few surprises.
  1. Death Grips: 34,151,432
  2. Counting Crows: 26,950,427
  3. Billy Van: 18,702,053
  4. Gods Robot: 12,172,672
  5. Way Too Sick: 9,974,321
  6. Paz: 6,485,001
  7. Bray: 5,878,492
  8. Pretty Lights: 5,005,061
  9. DJ Shadow: 4,349,048
  10. Chester French: 523,356
As Eliot notes, that number one legal download, Death Grips, is signed to a major label deal on Epic (part of Sony Music). The Counting Crows are obviously a big name as well, and we wrote about their decision to use BitTorrent. They're ex-big label, but now independent. Also, DJ Shadow and Chester French were both associated with Universal sub-labels, though I do not know if either are still "signed." Either way, it's interesting to see that it's a mix of artists, including some from major labels and some others. It certainly looks like, perhaps, the idea that BitTorrent is just for infringement may have to be officially considered debunked.

Seriously, this is just a small fraction... click to see the whole thing

Filed Under: authorized uses, bittorent, trends
Companies: bittorrent

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  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 Oct 2012 @ 6:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, IP addresses are revealed. You however keep going on that an IP address is not a person, therefore in your world, it's meaningless. Why hide behind this one when you routinely "debunk" it?

    Same issue with HTTP downloads, FTP, [insert protocol here]. Even if you get a subpoena and find out the IP address that downloaded the file you still need to prove the address owner/holder was the one to download it and not a hacker or an user of his open wi-fi. I know, I know it's complex for your little mind but an IP is not a person regardless of the protocol being used.

    Why have there been moved to things like magnet links and other techniques to hide where a file comes from?

    You should get informed, magnet links just point the hash to the bittorrent client who will then look for peers in the DHT/PEX networks that are decentralized and don't need trackers. If you add a tracker it usually makes the initial download faster. The file comes from each and every single peer connected to that specific hash in the network. The protocol itself makes it harder to find the initial seeder (which is what you seem to be referring) if he uses super-seeding mode since the client will report it doesn't have all pieces to the other clients in the network and will upload different pieces to different clients so they'll communicate between themselves and this will optimize the overall bandwidth used so the initial seeder will need to upload just a small amount above the total size of the content in order to the swarm to develop and maintain itself. So the first seeder in this case might just be the lucky (or unlucky) guy who gets all parts first.

    Why use an unreliable distributed system where bandwidth is so cheap, that an artist could easily offer their own download servers, or use a third party CDN to deliver stuff at a reasonable rate?

    It is not unreliable. It's actually very reliable and resilient. And even attempts to destroy a swarm are mitigated by the healthy peers. The protocol itself has defensive mechanisms against attacks. The artist may offer other options indeed but a server would be expensive. Cloud storage (mainly in the form of cyberlockers) as many used to use is being viciously attacked by the MAFIAA as piracy heavens (just like bittorrent) so they aren't much of an option anymore. Bittorrent is virtually free. The artist can use their home connections to start the swarm and let it live afterwards. Take your head out of the sand, it is a very reasonable and cheap approach to distribute digital files.

    Everything is done in bittorrent to disguise the source to distribute reponsiblity, and to make it difficult to prosecute those who choose to break the law. You know it, why deny it?

    It is not, bittorrent is designed to use bandwidth efficiently. You don't seem to know it so I forgive you for your denial. An unintended result of several optimizations to the protocol was the super-seed mode that can make it pretty hard to identify the initial seeder but greatly optimizes the bandwidth usage.

    Wait. You're not big on fact in this case.

    That applies to you actually. Although it seems you didn't know how the protocol works so it's forgivable.

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