Thursday, November 12, 2009

No monopoly on BitTorrent hype

Google tells me that a few people have turned up this blog by searching for "60 minutes bittorrent". I couldn't replicate that effect, perhaps because I didn't dig deeply enough into the hits, more likely because other hits have taken Field Notes' place, but I did turn up some other interesting tidbits:
  • The top hit was for a BitTorrent site offering downloads of 60 Minutes, including a couple of files dated 11/1, presumably the episode in question. I'm not going to include the link here, as I don't see any indication that the particular site has permission to distribute that content. However ...
  • A few pages further down, past several other unfriendly headlines, is a piece entitled Leslie Stahl Needs to Get A Clue About P2P. Hmm ... I wonder where they stand on the issue? Deftly dodging the various popups, I was reminded that BitTorrent (the company) partnered with several of the major studios back in late 2006. However ...
  • I'm hard-pressed to find any legal BitTorrent service for movies from the major studios -- something, for example, where you pay $X and then download the movie of your choice, duly uploading bits of your previously-purchased movies to other paying customers. Maybe it's there and I missed it, but neither BitTorrent's site, Fox Movies' site nor a general Google search turned up anything likely. By contrast, Roxio's Cinema Now delivers movies in a large variety of ways, but all of them involve a dedicated device.
  • Conversely the handful of BitTorrent sites I clicked through to explicitly don't charge anything (and handle an, ahem, wide variety of content).
So ... BitTorrent seems like a fine way to distribute bulky content -- whether legit or illicit -- for free, but not so good for paid content. No great surprise there. But, just as 60 Minutes deserves grief for putting forth the MPAA party line as an investigative report, and the MPAA for claiming loss of revenue it could never have realistically had in the first place, it comes off as disingenuous for someone defending BitTorrent to claim that the movie industry is actually benefitting from BitTorrent, based on a 2006 press release.

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