How Can BitTorrent Claim It Has Nothing To Do With Piracy?

How Can BitTorrent Claim It Has Nothing To Do With Piracy?
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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]


  • thats like saying that computer hardware and files systems need to be developing a system as well…since they are all used for piracy. I think people should focus more on the crime aspect then going after the technology or tools behind it. However, if millions are doing it around the world, then maybe the people who have their content pirated need to re-assess whats wrong with their model, and look at creating a better one.

  • Hmmm… Speaking of torre… watching good TV, “Falling Skies” Season three is up to episode four…. 🙂

    Oh and for God’s sake can someone tell me why my comment are so regularly being moderated… Still.. ??

    • Moderation kicks in on a variety of factors — in your case, downvotes appear to have become an issue recently.

      • Down votes? Seriously? I’ve had one major down voted comment recently, and that was about grammar. One of your favourite subjects if I’m not mistaken… There may be a few oddballs who don’t like my comments in general but there isn’t too many of them either. This is just vitriol afic…!!

        And now this comment is being moderated!! Tell me why that would be then? I also don’t understand why down votes would be a trigger, down vote is the commenting community making there feelings known, why is it necessary to moderate them?
        If it is about down votes, maybe you should compare them to up votes…

      • I would appreciate a reply here Angus, I know it’s a basic practice to ignore comments that staff don’t like, but this has the appearance of bias?

        I use the word bias in particular, specially when yet again my comment is awaiting moderation???

        • If you can’t see how making unsubstantiated and inflammatory claims like “it’s a basic practice to ignore comments that staff don’t like” isn’t going to help you get a response, I’m not entirely sure there’s any point in responding. However . . .

          One of the triggers for moderation is a low community score (which factors in both up votes and down votes and overall contributions). Right now, you have a score of -10, which suggests down votes have predominated. That in turn suggests that your comments are likely to be considered provocative/troll-like by our community, and that as such it’s safer to have them approved manually rather than automatically let through. We can adjust that status manually in specific cases — but I have to say your attitude here would not inspire me to make that change right now.

          • Where the hell did you drag those figures from?
            I can’t dispute your claim about those stats because there is no where I can see that shows them. However from my personal observation, I believe that the up votes would most certainly out number the down both on LH and Giz. I think you have an axe to grind because of my opinions about your grammar stance. The few times I have had disputes with others, the biggest protagonist I won’t name here, although I think we have achieved a truce of sorts, I believe I had the moral high ground. Seeing my comments being moderated so many times leaves me with only one conclusion, that being bias from staff and you in particular. I’ve been commenting here for a long time now and by and large the experience has been positive, however I won’t back down when bullied, I don’t care who it is!

            And there’s the moderation again…. This is just getting childish…

            Oh and I forgot to reply to the first part of you reply too..
            I have seen many and I do mean a lot, of commenter’s, not just myself, asking direct questions of staff written articles and being completely ignored. That is a fact, not some figure I plucked out of my bum..!!

          • Not helping yourself here. No, we don’t respond to every comment or question (largely because of time constraints), but that doesn’t make it a “fact” that we invariably do that because we don’t like them as you claim. Plenty of critical comments appear on the site every day.

            I’ll say it again: the system is automated. My own biases don’t factor into calculating whether a user’s moderation status gets changed. Where they do enter into it is that I can (and do) delete any comment (moderated or not) that doesn’t advance a conversation or is abusive or inflammatory. And I have not done that with your comments,

          • So I’ll ask the question again. Why are mine getting so much attention?
            Telling me that my comments are -10 is nonsense. I could accept that it was that for this last month due to one article that was voted down quite a bit. the article was about grammar. Previous to that my comments were no worse than anyone else! Yet I’ve had this problem for a lot longer than that. so forgive me if I find that curious, not to mention, annoying. Or are you saying that the system goes off a monthly cycle. Sorry if I come across so angry but this is getting out of hand and I’d appreciate a bit of fairness here!

          • While I know you don’t do much of the behind-the-scenes code, It might be interesting for profiles to have the total moderation score visible.

            In a best case scenario it’d make people realise unpleasant comments can stick around, and at worst you’d get a few people competing to be the top-ranked commenter.

          • That’s definitely a thought to take on board (though the value would arguably depend on the number of people who are finding themselves with a changed moderation state, which is not something I know offhand).

          • That’s great to know, actually. I’m wondering if it might be helpful to the wider giz / LH community to post an article or policy about commenting standards and how the system works with moderation. Although I don’t think Timmahh’s ranting is appropriate, it would be for everyone to know where they stand.

  • In copyright case law, this is examined profusely under the concept of “contributory infringement” or “vicarious liability”. Grokster and Sony escaped this because while they did create the mechanism for piracy, they did not actively facilitate or encourage it. It’s much harder with P2P apps because they kinda do both at the same time, and courts also look into the fact that the creator must have some mechanisms to discourage illegal sharing of content.

  • There are plenty of other ways to get this content. And more and more publishers are realizing that if content is easily available online then people ARE willing to pay for it! Not to mention big companies use bit torrent to distribute a variety of files like drivers and iso’s. Including the education department! If we go by your analogy then video stores = a place where i can get dvd’s to copy… there are many others in comments people have already made. Look at the big picture mate. Some bands/movies wouldn’t exist without bit torrent.

  • Hmmm, How can Stanley Tools claim it has nothing to do with chemical weapons manufacture? – After all you need screwdrivers and tape measures to build a chemical weapons plant.

    How can Intel claim they have nothing to do with assault weapon manufacture? – After all they are designed on computers.

    How can Samsung, Nokia and Apple claim they have nothing to do with the illegal slave trade? – After all the slavers and kidnappers use mobile phones.

    Just because a tool can be misused does not make the tool the problem – The problem is why are average people willing to do the wrong thing knowingly?

    You will never stamp out illegal copying completely, there are just some people that have an aversion to doing the right thing and there will always be people that steal – however, if the content makers and distributors redirected half the money they do on marketing into making it easier for the average user to consume their content, I think the majority of the illegal copying would simply evaporate.

  • Thank you for taking the correct side in this argument.. I was very concerned from the title you had not.. Though, I guess that was your intent, you sneaky media person you

  • I agree it isn’t the means in which the illegal things are done that’s the problem, things themselves aren’t necessarily bad. It’s the people using them, but on the other hand neither is it good/right/nice to hold people at ransom. There are not enough avenues, reasonable pricing or choice, which has driven people to look for ways to access things illegally. People up top in control of these things need to stop protecting their income streams and start working with consumers. It’s all greed at the end of the day, greed to milk people dry and greed to have something you didn’t pay for. The system is clearly not working and what we see with downloading is people wanting change. It’s at least a way of rocking the boat to get people to start changing systems.

  • My immediate thought after reading that Epic Meal Time was the most popular download on its legitimate content network was Bacon Strips & Bacon Strips & Bacon Strips & Bacon Strips & Bacon Strips & Bacon Strips & Bacon Strips & Bacon Strips & Bacon Strips & Bacon Strips

  • You can share pirated content over CDs and USB too. Maybe they should blame those too! [/sarcasm]

  • Try telling the US Congressmen that “it’s like saying that gun manufacturers are responsible for the killing of school children.”

    • Except that the purpose of a gun is to wound or kill others. The purpose of BitTorrent isn’t to pirate, it’s to share files.

      • Have you seen the ways they justify themselves?
        “It’s for my self-protection”
        “It’s to keep my kids safe”
        “I don’t dare go out without my gun”

  • in the exact the same way that the people who constructed the roads can claim they have nothing to do with speeding.

  • just as Google hasn’t had much luck stopping people using “Googling” as a generic synonym for searching online Why would Google want to stop people using “Googling” as a synonym for searching online? That’s probably the best thing to have ever happened to them in terms of marketing and exposure.

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