In the wake of unsurprising reports that Game Of Thrones is currently the most-pirated TV show, BitTorrent, Inc has put up a blog post arguing that “piracy happens outside the BitTorrent ecosystem”. That’s technically true, but it’s dodging the bigger issue: torrenting is now effectively a synonym for “potentially dubious download” for most people.
BitTorrent (the company)’s argument centres on the fact that the open-source BitTorrent protocol itself is only a small part of the equation:
It’s literally impossible to “illegally download something on BitTorrent.” To pirate stuff, you need more than a protocol. You need search, a pirate content site, and a content manager. We offer none of those things. If you’re using BitTorrent for piracy, you’re doing it wrong.
BitTorrent points out that on its legitimate content network — where creators actively encourage sharing of their content — the most popular download of 2013 has been the show Epic Meal Time.
It’s true that online piracy only uses BitTorrent (and other P2P protocols) as the sharing mechanism, and relies on those other elements to actually facilitate access. However, that doesn’t mean millions of people aren’t using the protocol as part of their ongoing download activities. Figures tracking that activity might not be “official” BitTorrent numbers, but it’s ostrich-like to pretend that they’re meaningless.
Developing a legitimate ecosystem where content creators can freely share their work is a worthwhile task, and it must be annoying for the BitTorrent team to find its name constantly associated with piracy. However, just as Google hasn’t had much luck stopping people using “Googling” as a generic synonym for searching online, BitTorrent may just have to put up with most people seeing it as a synonym for ‘piracy’.
The Real King of BitTorrent [BitTorrent Blog]