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Fetch.io Downloads Your Torrents For You Insanely Fast, Then Streams Them to You (lifehacker.com)
161 points by dotpot on May 20, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 62 comments

Am I missing something or is this the exact opposite of what torrenting is supposed to do? Torrents are decentralized so that there is no single bottleneck and no single point of attack. Re-centralizing torrents re-creates the problem torrents were supposed to solve...?

THe original decentralized design of the bittorrent protocol was to stop bandwidth bottlenecks only - to let the cloud of people downloading it all also immediately start contributing to uploading to others, so the more people that start torrenting something, the more bandwidth becomes available. The only original bottleneck was the tracker.

It had nothing at all todo with privacy, points of attack, or anything like that.

Rememeber, most of the bittorrent legal threats aren't because you downloaded but becuase you shared - because your client also uploaded parts of the content to others as well - that's distribution.

This is more about leeching than seeding. Torrenting is also just one of many services being offered. I presume the point is the speed. As I am currently stuck on a 3G hotspot for a connection, a GIGb connection is tempting. Especially for the natty iso.

It may also be a solution against providers that do "traffic shaping" on torrents (pretty common in Brazil at least).

Ha! I've been in Rio for a week wondering why the traffic graph in uTorrent looks like a saw blade. Obrigado!

I don't think they are doing it to support BitTorrent... It is just a service, not a replacement. I don't see why I'd prefer to use this , but I can see a situation where it can be easier to use than a bittorent client for novice users.

I have been using put.io for quite some time. Amongst other things they also provide the option to download torrent files and convert them into mp4, just like fetch.io.

For me there are several benefits with using a service like this over downloading the file directly:

* I can start a download, close my laptop and go to a different location or bring it to lecture or what not, and the download continues.

* If my laptop is in for service I can download and stream a show on my iPad.

* It is just extremely fast. Downloading a torrent to put.io and then streaming it is in my experience much faster than downloading the torrent directly to my computer.

[edit: fixed formatting]

It might be, but you're dismissing streaming the torrent directly. If your client can use moving window to select parts—instead of just doing it randomly—you could start watching your show without waiting for 100%. This does not require support in any client other than yours (however I'd imagine you would need at least some percentage of the swarm to use similar algorithm if you want to participate when the torrent is being only just seeded).

Why this is not something commonly used, outside of specific commercial clients and to aid CDN networks, is a complete mystery to me.

How is this different than http://put.io ?

put.io also supports "ftp’s, direct download links, many paysite links, basic http authenticated links" (http://put.io/features). So I guess fetch.io has less features :)

It's free

the free part will be totally useless. we've seen so many sites trying to do this for free. none of them work. imageshack closed it down, put.io didn't even try, torrific is so slow, you can write data faster by hand

yeah, nothing new...

Does anyone know if fetch.io or put.io caches requests across accounts? It seems like a pretty obvious optimization, but neither services advertises this ability.

Find appropriate torrent, it already exists on the server, start streaming immediately. With enough users it would be like a shady version of Netflix. At least until the MPAA catches on and floods them with DMCA requests.

How will these guys make money? This sounds insanely expensive.

Not to mention that they navigate in a minefield of copyright and IP issues.

I believe bittorrent traffic is subject to heavy deduplication. But what about legality?

Not really, it is essentially rapidshare except they don't need to store as much data and they are backwards compatible with torrents. A pretty smart way to seed their service.

FWIW Rapidshare is about $6/month.

The recording industry would be making $6/m more from at least one person if they offered this service directly themselves.

Sounds like a great idea, but how liable are they for copyright infringement?

How likely are they (or anyone) to be sued, liable or not?

In IP, courts are a weapon.

If you download a copyrighted file, it is your fault. Not of the tool you use for downloading it.

Yeah, let's call Sean Parker and tell him that. He'll be delighted.

Enough with the upvotes. It's not that insightful.

They are downloading and redistributing pirated movies. They're basically helping piracy, and they're an easy target. They'll get shut down eventually if they don't die sooner on their own.

Yup how is this different from the Lime Wire case. Basically I don't see how this will work. As an aside, except distros and open Documentaries, what all do people download legally through bit torrent?

Since the infringing content is moving directly to their servers and then being offered for download it seems an even clearer example than limewire. In the end though it comes down to "substantial non-infringing use" -> something services like rapidshare or usenet hosts seem to be able to show (or at least IP lawyers think they would be able to) but typical bittorrent trackers or other p2p nets haven't seemed to be able to.

Other types of legal software - I was given the option of using bittorrent when I downloaded humble indie bundle games, blizzard uses BT for world of warcraft patches, some large scientific datasets, large password dictionaries / rainbow tables and a produced for BT TV series are a few of the examples I've seen. But of course it's hard to consider much of this 'substantial' as compared to the traffic volume of pirated content.

There are other examples of services like this though, so who knows.

"Substantial non-infringing use" was the Betamax standard, but now they have to meet the Grokster standard as well.

Officially bought Nine Inch Nails albums in lossless (FLAC and ALAC) and "pro audio" (24bit 96kHz multitrack WAV IIRC). You can legally get The Slip [1] and Ghosts I for free [2], and Ghosts I-IV [2] for a few bucks. Oh, and DRM free.

[1] http://theslip.nin.com/ (completely free)

[2] http://ghosts.nin.com/ (order includes a "free" option, but only paid one offers lossless and pro through BitTorrent)

The NIN BitTorrent system includes a token that will allow you to start the download "once" (in fact it seems you can start the download many times during a limited time span, then any started download will be allowed to complete even past that cut-off, but the tracker will refuse new fresh downloads).

The system is strict enough to prevent blatant copy-pasting and email the download link, yet resilient enough to not get in your way.

BT is a data transport medium with perfectly valid use cases. It can very helpfully reduce swarm costs on various intense digital products releases. It's basically bandwidth parallelization and DHT helps to palliate possible tracker downtimes/overloading. It's a shame official release channels don't use it more.

exactly. it's the cheapest content distribution method on the planet. even amazon s3 supports it. i think a service utilizing this is totally justified

As an aside, except distros and open Documentaries, what all do people download legally through bit torrent?

World of Warcraft

It's also how many get their Ubuntu ISOs!

Exactly. That's why guns and knives have no legal issues at all, nor strong cryptography or various questionable instruction manuals!

"guns and knives have no legal issues"..?

I guess people downvoting me somehow haven't heard gun control laws?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_law_in_the_United_States http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_law

There quite obviously ARE legal issues to do with owning guns and knives, not just the misuse of them. For example in England you can't even carry a knife around with you legally, with just a few exceptions.

I am not so sure if that applies in all countries. IIRC in central europe (at least in some states) the "bad thing" is copying, not downloading. But I am not a layer and I hope someone with more knowledge can correct me.

You're wrong. But enforcement may make things closer to the position that you state. However I think relying on the media companies not to enforce their copyright is a bit naive.

Just done a bit of research (google), it seems to be more complicated then an easy yes/no (in Germany). Something to do with if the source is obviously illegal, then the download is also illegal, otherwise it seems OK. But the copyright laws are getting more and more complicated....

Never heard of contributory infringement?

First service doing this is http://put.io . This seems to be a direct clone of put.io

Most probably a honeypot of the RIAA. :P

Oh, maybe helpful to law enforcement since fetch.io will probably save your history of illegaly downloaded content...

I read through the terms, privacy policy, and dmca information because this site will obviously be used for piracy and where there's piracy there's lawsuits. It was kind of long so here's a tl;dr for anyone wondering about them.

The terms prohibit using the service for any illegal purposes including copyright infringement. They then waive any liability for damages but also state that doing this is prohibited in some jurisdictions so this might not apply. Then finally under Indemnification they state that a user agrees to be monetarily responsible for any liabilities, claims, and expenses, including attorneys fees, that arise from misuse of the service.

The privacy policy states that personal information will only be shared with the consent of the user or if required by law.

The dmca page states that they will comply with requests but asks for them to be snail mailed to Hong Kong.

I wonder if there are any jurisdiction issues with them being located in Hong Kong. Maybe this was a carefully chosen location for legal reasons; does anybody know anything about this? My other initial thought after reading this is that they're going to have a hard time tracking down the users responsible for submitting torrents in some cases. I can submit a torrent for a movie while at a coffee shop using a fake email address, post the link online somewhere, and then go home and watch it. Then the only crime that I've provably committed is downloading copyrighted material which is less of an offense then uploading. If the site were to get sued for uploading while downloading the torrent then they have nobody to pass that blame on to.

Also, when lots of people will start to use it, it will be possible for them to cache files.. so you don't even have to wait for them to download the torrent.

That's exactly what btaccel used to do — http://www.btaccel.com/ . They seem to be gone now though.

I think btaccel became Torrific (http://www.torrific.com).

So they're storing files on their servers and selling access to those files ... hope they have good copyright lawyers.

It would be interesting to see what the IP of their BT client looks like. Maybe it would be possible to distribute the client across lots of machine and hide the fact that it was fetch.io. It would make it extremely difficult to actually prove that any infringement had occurred. Alternatively they could expose the IP of the end user in the headers and just claim to be a safe harbour.

This does seem like a dangerous proposition if you dont want authorities to track your downloading habits from a single point of "privacy" failure

P.S. I posted a direct link(didnt care to bring traffic to lifehacker) yesterday, but it never got any traction


How would this compare to Newsgroups? Pretty much anything worthwhile that is on BitTorrent can be found on Newsgroup servers and leeched (or in case of videos streamed) at your connection’s maximum download speed. The only advantage I can think of is when ISPs block access to Newsgroups ~ am I missing something?

The first rule of Usenet: don't talk about Usenet.

But seriously, a comparison:

* This service appears to do a full download, unpackaging, and will even transcode. If you download binaries from Usenet, you've got to deal with sometimes incomplete NZBs, hunt down the PAR2 files that are never included in the download, ...

* There is a free offering here. Decent binary Usenet service costs money.

* Subjective: I always have a hard time finding good solid NZBs on Usenet -- this isn't bad because I can leech much faster, but it's still annoying to get a passworded download.

>The only advantage I can think of is when ISPs block access to Newsgroups

This isn't really a huge worry for most -- you don't use your ISPs news server, because the retention is terrible. If you are using Usenet for binaries, you are paying for a high-retention service.

In the end I'd personally still prefer Usenet, because the average seedbox -- and let's be honest, that's all this is -- gets very slow, unreliable, and eventually dies under the weight of DMCA hits.

I think the idea is fetch.io will compress the video for you for streaming, so you don't need to download the full, uncompressed version.

There's some numbers at the top that I -assume- are storage and transfer limits... But they aren't labeled, so I can't be sure.

I'm also a little worried about the lack of privacy policy or TOS.

The privacy policy and terms of service seem to be linked on the website:



I think their DMCA policy seems interesting, as it seems to ask copyright holder to mail notice of infringement to their address in Hong Kong:


Ah, I see. They disappear once you log in. My fault for signing up before I checked the terms.

Doesn't seem very practical for torrents, but it looks like it works great for downloading rapidshare files - especially the annoying ones, divided into 20 x 100mb files.

you should take a look at jdownloader.org

While downloading, do they also upload to other clients? That is, do they only take from the Torrent network or are they giving back some bandwidth to the network?

I guess not much, because they're heavily overloaded and they can't/won't spare the bandwidth. But that's not an issue, really, I guess they will eventually allow themselves to have a 1:1 up/down ratio at least, that should be nothing compared to the amount of clients they're serving.

Subtitles support planned? Uploading my own SRT and do some Subtler-like merge in the backend or picking one from the torrent files.

Wont this be a one stop shop for the RIAA?

Nice, a liability lightning rod.

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