Print 22 comment(s) - last by Vanilla Thunde.. on Jul 3 at 3:55 PM

Chan Nai-ming was sentenced to three months in jail for seeding movies with his BitTorrent client in 2005 (Source: AFP)
Development kit now available to help integrate BitTorrent support into hardware devices -- but it won't help you get out of prison

Last month Hong Kong authorities sentenced Chan Nai-ming to serve three months in a state-run correctional facility.  His crime: seeding Daredevil, Miss Congeniality and Red Planet via BitTorrent in 2005.

This week BitTorrent Inc. announced a software development kit to help hardware developers integrate BitTorrent support into devices. According to the company, BitTorrent-related transactions accounts for roughly 40-percent of all Internet traffic today, with usage on the rise.

Chan likely knew his actions were at least borderline -- his offense in 2005 occurred during the "early" days of BitTorrent.  At the time, you had to go out of your way to be on the BitTorrent path. But today, you have microprocessors optimized for BitTorrent and routers that manager your Torrent traffic on the fly.

With more devices enabling BitTorrent-capable streams, the audience using the protocol is expanding fast.  Much like the Napster days of yore, we'll get our share of blue-haired grandmothers in court for downloading Maroon 5 over BitTorrent soon enough.

Don't get me wrong, I love BitTorrent.  The architecture is brilliant, the protocol is simple to implement. Blizzard's patch download system is a shining example of one application that surely benefits from the Torrent setup.

But let's not kid ourselves, the reason BitTorrent pulled so much popularity in so short of time is piracy.

The company is certainly not shy with major partnerships with big semiconductor companies, but mention copyright infringement and nobody has anything to say.  At least, not since 2005 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that intent of piracy would negatively impact any developer prosecuted by copyright defendants. Where Napster founder Sean Fanning openly condoned piracy, BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen avoids the confrontation as much as possible.  He might not laud piracy anymore, but he sure isn't standing up and taking responsibility or action either.

So what will BitTorrent do when the next Chan Nai-ming gets sentenced to jail closer to home? It seems if BitTorrent had any vested interest in seeing its technology prosper outside The Pirate Bay, it would concern itself with legitimizing its content more-so than enabling it on every device known to man.  Why not move all trackers onto, and pull any that receive Cease & Desist requests?

YouTube (post-Google takeover) is a primeexample of why BitTorrent won't attempt to curb piracy -- at least until some poor sap buys them.  I'm not sure who BitTorrent is trying to kid with its new development kit: for each Blizzard there's probably 100 TorrentSpys.

Ride your digital cascade while you can BitTorrent.  The past is littered with the cyber corpses of dozens of startups that never took piracy seriously until it was too late.

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hi! ^_^
By puffpio on 6/20/2007 12:28:08 PM , Rating: 2
Why not move all trackers onto, and pull any that receive Cease & Desist requests?

I find that statement rediculous..and perhaps it was intended to incite some response. That's like asking all the FTP servers in the world to authenticate on one master server...

I are likening bittorrent to a service like napster, and less like a protocol like FTP.

I agree that usage skyrocketed because of illegal activity, but it's like you are saying that author of the bittorent protocol himself should take some responsibility. if someone shoots someone, do you blame the shooter or the gun manufacturer?

RE: hi! ^_^
By KristopherKubicki on 6/20/2007 12:36:31 PM , Rating: 3
... do you blame the shooter or the gun manufacturer?

Yah, in some cases we do blame both.

RE: hi! ^_^
By therealnickdanger on 6/20/2007 12:52:02 PM , Rating: 2
... unfortunately.

Users and users alone should be held responsible for violations of the law. I don't see why we continue to attempt to blur these lines. It just makes it worse for everyone.

RE: hi! ^_^
By KristopherKubicki on 6/20/2007 1:55:04 PM , Rating: 2
The law is very clear about this actually. If the owner creates a service that is largely used, by his direction, to infringe upon copyright, he can be held liable.

There's an outstanding article + transcript here:

Very similar arguments have been used against gun manufacturers for certain cases (i.e. negligence by the manufacturer).

RE: hi! ^_^
By CollegeTechGuy on 6/20/2007 4:14:53 PM , Rating: 2
The key to your statement is "by his directions". I don't think the BitTorrent owner is directing anyone to do anything that is illegal. Just like gun manufacturors don't direct its consumers to shoot people.

Guns can be a hobby and used for target shooting and hunting...just like BitTorrent can be used to download completly legal files.

RE: hi! ^_^
By KristopherKubicki on 6/20/2007 4:54:51 PM , Rating: 2
Just like gun manufacturors don't direct its consumers to shoot people.

But how did gun manufacturers start getting wrongful death suits? The big loophole (this was the one on Law & Order) was that gun manufacturers DIDN'T take simple steps to prevent the conversion of semi-auto weapons into automatic weapons.

The parallels between some of those cases and p2p companies is very uncanny.

RE: hi! ^_^
By Bladen on 6/23/2007 8:53:27 AM , Rating: 2
Wait, wasn't that one about how they basically advertised that the guns in question could easily be converted?

RE: hi! ^_^
By cochy on 6/21/2007 8:07:10 AM , Rating: 2
I agree 100%. Bittorrent is nothing more than a file transfer protocol, it's not a service at all.

The blizzard patcher, are you kidding me?
By darkpaw on 6/19/2007 5:04:38 PM , Rating: 5
A shining example of bad idea maybe. I've played plenty of MMOs and this is the only game that I had to ever patch using 3rd party sites (fileplanet). Vivindi makes billions off of WoW, but is too cheap to have proper bandwidth to serve its own patches. Instructing people to open holes in their firewall just to run a patch program is a joke.

RE: The blizzard patcher, are you kidding me?
By Etsp on 6/20/2007 3:16:49 PM , Rating: 2
That's mostly because Blizzard did it wrong, and continues to do so. They do not let you choose your ports for your incoming connection and instead use bittorrent's default ports, which are severely throttled on some ISP's. Also, they do not allow anyone to simply download a torrent file to use their own client. They also will not let you reserve 5kbps upstream to yourself so you can...oh i dunno... browse the internet while waiting for their huge patches to finish downloading. Wow did it wrong in so many ways...

By theslug on 6/21/2007 8:18:38 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe it varies from one ISP to another. The Blizzard downloader (which is used for more than just WoW patches) seems to download files relatively quickly and doesn't soak up bandwidth. I think they chose their own program to prevent users from having to manually download a torrent and separate program, since WoW does it all automatically. Though, they should still give users the choice. And it should let you change the port it uses, I agree.

Is that your mug, Kris?
By hellokeith on 6/19/2007 5:46:47 PM , Rating: 1
Good photo but not how I pictured you look.

RE: Is that your mug, Kris?
By Moose1309 on 6/19/2007 6:38:39 PM , Rating: 2
LOL - I think that's Bram Cohen, the inventor of the protocol. Or maybe you knew that already :/

RE: Is that your mug, Kris?
By KaiserCSS on 6/20/2007 2:52:20 AM , Rating: 2
*clears throat*

Now then:

Lurk moar.

That is indeed Brahm Cohen.

RE: Is that your mug, Kris?
By KristopherKubicki on 6/20/2007 5:05:15 AM , Rating: 2
By Vanilla Thunder on 7/3/2007 3:55:03 PM , Rating: 2
So Kris,
Do you spin, or are you just a fan of electronic music? If I remember correctly, you said you're in the Chicago area. Just wondering if I can catch a live set anywhere?


By Flunk on 6/20/2007 12:30:26 PM , Rating: 2
"Why not move all trackers onto, and pull any that receive Cease & Desist requests?"

Why not? because the original client was open-source and there are many different clients and tracker servers available. Even if Bittorrent Inc. was to change their client to force use of their own tracker there is no way to force all of the other clients to do the same.

In essence, although bit torrent was created by Bram Cohen. He and the company he started have no control over the standard at all. If they try and lock it down others will just produce clients that are not locked down.

RE: What?
By KristopherKubicki on 6/20/2007 12:38:27 PM , Rating: 2
It's more the "thought that counts." They've attempted to legitimize BitTorrent via the BT tracker, but that's a far cry from the founder getting up there and saying we're going to take piracy seriously -- at least in my opinion.

RE: What?
By chsh1ca on 6/20/2007 1:24:02 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, I think Azureus has done far more for the legitimacy of torrent apps by offering a content service.

Different approach, but it will do more in the long run I think.

RE: What?
By smitty3268 on 6/20/2007 3:40:47 PM , Rating: 2
I'm just not sure what you really expect him to do - stand up at a podium and say "we're taking piracy seriously"? I think they're already working with content providers like the MPAA to create legitimate services aren't they? I'm sure he's given them plenty of assurances in private. Any type of concrete action would be doomed to fail because, as you say, a lot of people use it for that and the protocol is available for anyone to implement.

Just look at those movies
By novacthall on 6/19/2007 5:06:25 PM , Rating: 5
His crime: seeding Daredevil, Miss Congeniality and Red Planet via BitTorrent in 2005.

I'm unclear on whether the nature of the crime was the seeding of the movies or the movies themselves.

All kidding aside, I think your closing comment sums it up wonderfully. Regardless of how many tens of millions of Internet users openly engage in piracy and support the underlying technologies to those ends, the owners of the rights of infringed properties, intellectual or otherwise, have historically shown their ruthlessness with near-startling ferocity. When I first heard about BitTorrent in 2003, I was intrigued with the technology and its overall graceful execution, but I also realized that one day it, too, would come under scrutiny of those who would see it eliminated. It is interesting, however, to see that whenever one is cut down, another immediately rises in its place. No sooner had Napster fallen to the dogs of war than Morpheus and Limewire and eDonkey (and countless others I'm neglecting) stood up in its place. That kind of persistence would certainly find the approval of the Borg.

Personally, outside of Blizzard's downloader (on which I have mixed feelings, frankly) I am not a user of the technology. Many moons ago, perhaps, but these days I firmly believe in paying for things that I enjoy.

RE: Just look at those movies
By Dianoda on 6/20/2007 7:01:42 PM , Rating: 2
The adaptability and evolution of the net is one of the things I most admire. The piracy market will continue to exist as long as the net stays open and there is a market for free content. It will simply find a way.

Why? Because the risks that individuals take when they acquire content of questionable legality are either: non-existent, ignored, non-material (or perceived as such).

I believe that the majority of internet users who engage in this type of illegal activity don't think that they will ever receive any backlash from continuing their activities. If they have used bit-torrent to download illegal content multiple times and have never received any acknowledgment for their actions, why would they believe that they will ever face repercussions for them? (They should though, times are a changing; just look what happened to Chan Nai-ming, not the first and certainly not the last of his kind)

Look at it this way, if bit-torrent related activity accounts for 40% of all internet activity, and the majority of that activity is piracy, who is tracking this activity? And even though most of it is likely being tracked, the amount of data that would have to be sorted through to provide evidence for every single case of bit-torrent internet piracy makes it illogical for one to think that all of that data will ever be sorted-through and then presented to the proper authorities by the party whose content has been distributed illegally or any other party. Some people will and continue to get away with internet piracy.

I don’t agree with internet piracy, but I certainly don’t see it disappearing in my lifetime (and i'm still young, at 21 years of age). If anything, I expect it to grow as more and more users get connected to the net. That's just the nature of the beast.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
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