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Wil Wheaton: Yo Hollywood, Let Me Download Ubuntu (wilwheaton.typepad.com)
288 points by macco on May 15, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 163 comments

I just installed Diablo III, most of which was delivered to me via BitTorrent. It worked pretty great.

In theory, Apple et al could also use BT to distribute movies, yes? Have iTunes run a modified BT client that only connects to other approved clients?

I've often thought that Podcasts should be distributed over BitTorrent. Every so often Ira Glass comes on the This American Life podcast and mentions that it costs over $100K a year (or whatever) for just the bandwidth of hosting the podcast.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't give directly to support your favorite public radio shows and/or your local public radio station, naturally.

I've heard him make the same statement and had the same thought. Is there any downside for them to add a BitTorrent option? Maybe it's just that they can't track the number of downloads?

If that's all, it seems like a small price for drastically reduced hosting costs. And if there isn't already, there should be a protocol for "distribute via BitTorrent but ping the original seeder to let them know".

There are two problems with it:

First you have to create the possibility for the people to download your podcast as a torrent. This sounds easy but is additional work. A new project that wants to tackle this is http://bitlove.org/ where podcasters just have to add their regular feed and the site will create a bittorrent feed and seed the torrents (extensive German descrpition: http://metaebene.me/2012/05/06/bitlove/)

The other problem is that users need to be able to easily download the torrent feeds. Some bittorrent clients support feeds, but right now only one podcast client understands bittorrent: http://http://www.getmiro.com/

If Apple were to take a leadership role here, that would help. If iTunes on desktop and mobile supported torrent downloads, the iTunes podcast directory would seed or link to seeds, and if there was some sort of protocol for pinging a centralized place to let content providers know how many times something was downloaded.

People have been putting torrent links in their RSS for years.

Yes, but it isn't particularly widespread, I checked the RSS for a few of my favorite podcasts and they don't have them. I also checked to see if any of my favorite podcast players support torrent downloads and they don't appear to.

I asked some folks at NPR about this a few years back.

I can't seem to find the exact message they sent me, but I believe the issue is that their licensing of content (mostly the music) on the show has specific rules about how that content is distributed (or not distributed).

Miro promotes and supports torrent based (video) podcasts. http://getmiro.com

Couldn't he put the file in Dropbox or Google docs get free downloads?

Both sites have a Terms of Service that prevent the misuse of their resources. If you've ever clicked on a popular link to a file on Dropbox's servers, you may find a page that tells you "This file has reached its daily limit of downloads" or something along those means. Google likely has something similar with Google Drive.

If there were a TV network sponsored torrent site with a monthly subscription, and no DRM, I would throw my money at them so fast. I doubt this will happen, though.

Well. NRK (Norwegian national tv broadcast service) puts a lot of its content online. Since they don't have the bandwidth to handle the large spikes in activity, they publish a lot of this content as torrents.


DRM or not, this seems like a great way to distribute content.

BitTorrent is a great technical advancement. It's a fantastic, brilliant, genius new invention that makes it much much easier to share data. It, paradoxically, gets faster the more people who want to download! It's a brilliant technical solution to a big, pressing, expensive problem.

I am annoyed when such a marvelous technical solution is seen as nothing more than a shady, illegal software. ☹

BitTorrent is like a lock pick set. There are valid uses such as if you've locked yourself out of your house, but if the majority of people use a lock pick set to unlock the back door to a movie theater and sneak in to watch movies without paying no doubt it would be perceived similarly.

Bad analogies are like Vietnam.

That's not entirely valid.

There is _one_ legitimate use for a lock pick set: to unlock something you own that you've accidentally locked yourself out of. There are literally billions of uses for BT: every large public (legal) file that's currently distributed via centralized server.

There is one legitimate use for BitTorrent: to efficiently transfer data that you have permission to access.

Some people use lock picks to unlock doors that they don't have permission to much in the same way that some people use BitTorrent to transfer data they don't have permission to.

Fair enough. But even if I accept your definition of a "use," there are millions of files you could legitimately download with BT. There are a handful of locks you could legitimately open with a lockpick.

Are you not familiar with Locksport?

No and neither is anyone else, statistically speaking.

(Personally I know exactly what you're talking about, but trying to hang your case on an obscure sport isn't doing it any favors. The lockpick analogy is bad and a car analogy would serve you much better.)

Not my analogy, and I agree it was terrible.

I would say it's like a car, it helps people get to places faster but every time there is a bank robbery the thieves get away in a car

BitTorrent is a pawn shop that sometimes sells guns to criminals. A lock pick set is more like a keygen, to go with the gun.

(You know, as long as we're speaking in analogies)

mostly sells guns - I suspect the ratio of dodgy/legit is worse for bittorrent that the average pawn shopp

It is a great way to distribute content. It more or less scales the delivery network in step with the number of content consumers.

There's also an interesting economic to torrents...the crappier the content, the fewer people seed. The fewer people that seed, the harder it is to get and the longer it takes. On the flip side, really great content gets seeded like crazy, and everyone can enjoy it quickly.

Although I agree with your post in general terms, I want to highlight is not great content gets seeded, its popular content. There is a diference. Specially since great old content decreases in popularity.

It's both. Great content and popular content both get seeded quite a bit, even as they age.

I've heard that popular content gets lots of leaches, but they don't seed for long. They delete the file once they've watched it, because it just wasn't that good.

Good content gets a lot of seeders, because they keep it for longer.

I think BBC iPlayer uses torrents internally to deliver its programmes. There's DRM, but it's not very restrictive. I throw my money at them once a year.

Well twice-ish as you pay them once via the Exchequer and once via TV Licensing.

How is their DRM "not very restrictive" unless you mean you can download DRM free if you can afford an iPhone (I think that's still true?). You can watch shows for 1 week before they're locked, can't you.

But yes last time I used it they installed a hidden application called Kontiki that there's practically no control over that leeches bandwidth without asking.

Yes -- and no. You have to remember that outside of a few countries, unlimited internet isn't ubiquitous. Admittedly, NZ is basically a worst-case scenario (we're connected to the rest of the world by a single pipe, access to which is - was - priced expensively), and we've recently seen an explosion of data caps ($130 for 550GiB from one provider, now), but that's only a very recent development. Some ISPs charge up to $2 a GiB - still.

So, using BT and seeding becomes a less valid option. Still, I'll happily admit that things are changing, and if NZ is a yardstick of the bad, then BT as a distribution mechanism (backed by, say, Akamai or other CDNs) for legal content could definitely take off.

Woulden't bittorrent be beneficial in NZ for popular torrents since not everybody needs to download the entire content through the Southern Cross Cable but instead could download some from local NZ peers?

In a perfect world: yes. In reality: your uploads count towards your data cap, and national traffic is no longer free (it used to be). When your data cap is expensive/small, seeding can cost you a significant amount of money.

Then there would have to be some feature that filtered non-NZ-peers. Would be great, but I don't think any bittorrent implementation supports this (yet).

A firewall rule on your router should work?

That's local as in Local Area Network as in it discovers other peers inside your house. To discover other peers in the same ISP you'll need to wait a few more years for ALTO.

Local Peer Discovery is for LANs

> outside of a few countries, unlimited internet isn't ubiquitous


There are some somewhat big, and most importantly legal, actors that do this already for music :)


Did you check the actual numbers on that? I was impressed with the speeds I was getting, and figured it must be because they were using a P2P mechanism, but when I looked at the download statistics (in the downloader, there's an option to show network information), and was very surprised that it was almost entirely directly downloaded. I don't remember the exact numbers, but it was something on the order of 1-2% of the total download.

That said, as someone else alluded to, maintaining that CDN with that bandwidth is probably crushingly expensive, and is something only Blizzard and a few others could pull off.

Does valve publish it's bittorrent support anywhere?

besides hiring the guy? i mean, one would think responsible news outlets (are there any?) would request valves comment everytime they publish the RIAA side, since valve profits buckets from it.

I think this is a bit of a straw man. Hasn't the FCC already made it clear that blocking entire protocols is illegal?

And, I don't know that I can recall many content folks arguing that BitTorrent as a whole should be blocked. My memory is that they complain that BitTorrent is heavily used for piracy (which is factually accurate), and propose ways to stop the piracy. For example SOPA did not target BitTorrent as a protocol or technology, but instead tried to shut down foreign websites that provide links to pirated content.

The funny thing is, as far as I can tell, these are the only two widespread uses of BitTorrent.

1) Pirating movies, music, etc...

2) Downloading Linux distributions.

Really there's no reason Firefox and Chrome shouldn't support torrents as a normal download mechanism, default to 1.0 share ratio with a cap of 1/3 upload speed (obviously adjustable), and just let web sites start using it transparently for every file over 20 megs.

BitTorrent is a GREAT content delivery mechanism. It decreases download time, decreases bandwidth costs (for everyone), ensures that file remain available as long as there are seeds (i.e. no way to censor a rogue file from a central point of control (assuming DHT is in use of course)), and checks every chunk and automatically redownloads if corruption is discovered. It's really pretty awesome.

It's a privacy issue.

Imagine I'm an Evil Doer(tm) and I decide to go to a porn site and download "Sick fetishes 3" just so I can publish the list of IP addresses that were part of my BT swarm.

With BT right now, you as a user are probably savvy enough to know that risk and accept it, but if it was built right into the the browser, a lot of bad things could happen.

It's too bad too, because I'd love to see a much bigger adoption of BT.

While this is true, browsers could benefit from a "bittorrent-lite" implementation. You get the files from a server, but they come with metadata like a .torrent file, which includes hashes for small chunks of the file. Downloads are automatically checked and can resume anywhere. It could all be transparent to the user. Really, it's amazing this isn't the default way to download yet.

Resuming fetching multiple unfetched fragments of a resource is already possible with HTTP range requests. Checking the entire file can be done if the server provides a Content-MD5 header (though I'm not sure actual client use of this is widespread), and checking parts of it is infrequently useful by itself to the processing application and would be highly application-dependent even if so. The big win of BitTorrent is the distribution of available channel capacity over the swarm of downloaders; if you're not going to use that part, HTTP does quite well by itself.

Proxy the transfers through the host site?

Oh, wait.

Opera does has built-in torrent support

Do they implement it properly, e.g. <video src="torrent:..."> or is is just for downloading?

Bittorrent is not a very effective protocol for streaming video. It's unlikely that it works in video tags and even if it did, it would not provide a very good user experience. Maybe in ideal conditions.

Bittorrent does not download files sequentially from the beginning to the end, but it grabs a piece here, a piece there. This way it can achieve greater availability and faster transfers for everyone.

Yeah, Opera just has a bittorrent client built in, as in, when you click on a torrent file, it presents it to you like it is "downloading" a traditional file.

1.0 is too high since the original server is willing to serve a reasonable amount of content and that doesn't even really count as seeding.

More and more games are using it as a patching tool these days. Blizzard has been using BitTorrent to distribute patches for years with WoW.

Companies also use it to deploy servers, although that's internal so it's not hampered by ISP blocks.

Indeed I have noticed this. I think it's great technology and more services should be using it. The Blizzard case is a great example of it being used pretty transparently/behind-the-scenes. I'd love to hear more non-transparent cases though. I genuinely cannot think of a time i've used it aside from stealing an album or grabbing debian.

> I genuinely cannot think of a time i've used it aside from stealing an album or grabbing debian.

It's definitely not stealing. I'm not sure what the preferred legal term for "pirating" is right now, but it's something like "intellectual property infringement". Stealing implies that you removed the original from the owner and refuse to give it back. That is not the case.

Is the big sticking point about using the word "stealing" is that piracy does not involve a physical item being removed from the owner? If so then maybe we're talking more along the lines of "theft of services"[1]. Theft and stealing are often used interchangeably but I believe they do have subtle differences in their definitions. However, we do not have as many different forms of the word "theft" as we do for "stealing". It does become a bit more awkward to work the word theft into some sentences. Rather than saying "I committed theft of three albums", it is easier and (in this context) nearly as accurate to say "I stole three albums".


Every time someone makes this argument I feel like they're undermining the point they are trying to make. You sound like a politician trying to couch his corruption in some legal technicality ("depends on what the definition of "is" is").

There are lots of reasons to look at the content industry and say "You are screwing us over, taking our rights and laughing all the way to the bank while you cry to our faces, you suck" but making up bullshit only makes you seem like you’re pedaling it too.

Instead of buying it, you took it. That's basically stealing.

Wait a minute, slow down. There's a real difference, a big one that seriously matters. I live in Canada. Stealing is a crime. You can face jail time, a permanent criminal record, and be removed from society for a very long time if you are found guilty of stealing.

None of that can happen to you if you pirate an album. Framing the issue to make it sound like you can be a criminal facing time in jail for downloading an album is absurd. It's very far removed from reality and builds a culture of hatred and fear that is not actually present.

Stealing and pirating music are very different things. It's wrong to talk about them as though they are the same. That's the only point I'm trying to make.

Pirating digital content is wrong. It's an issue that urgently needs attention. I'm not trying to justify the actions or call out in support of pirates. I am trying to make sure everyone knows that "stealing" has an important legal definition that is irrelevant to pirating music.

It's not the terminology per se that is the issue, but insisting on correcting everyone who uses it.

In the minds of everyone who is not in the group that makes that distinction it sounds like you're trying to justify something. It's essentially identical to the argument college kids make to me all the time: "I'm not stealing anything, I'm pirating it." Of course you are, but if I explained this issue to, say, a Senator, they would say it's stealing. At that point, yes, correct said Senator, then you're in a real discussion about a real issue. Swooping in and correcting some guy who casually uses the term "stealing" on an Internet form just grates on me because you sound like those college kids trying to justify themselves.

And in the minds of everyone in the group, you are trying to tar a number of people with the same brush. It grates on us that you write like you don't understand it's a civil case. But you are more important than everyone else, so let's use your method.

I know you're right. I know the term isn't "stealing" and that it's incorrect to use that term (and you'll notice that I didn't). But it's not me you have to convince. You have to convince everyone who doesn't understand the subtleties and swooping in to correct casual usage is not going to help you convince anyone, it's going to make you look annoying.

It's as if you correct everyone who uses the term "soccer" by saying "It's actually 'football'" or correcting everyone who conflates a alligator and a crocodile in casual conversation. In the end people will just ignore you.

I disagree, since both soccer and football are correct terms. It's more like calling it basketball (they are both ball sports, right?), so the correction is warranted.

I am not "swooping in," I noticed your comment and decided to remark that your terminology is incorrect. I did this because by referring to it as stealing you are taking part in the rhetoric that supports such acts as PIPA and SOPA.

but insisting on correcting everyone who uses it.

We correct you because you're using misleading terminology, as cryptoz explained.

Language matters and it's hard to have a useful discussion when either side keeps on falling back to prejudiced terminology.

To take it to an extreme, it's like saying you murdered someone when you ran a red light and hit their car. Yes, they died, but you're only really guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Manslaughter gets you 5-10 years, murder gets you life. Two sides of the same coin, maybe, but wildly differing laws, punishment, and intent.

Stealing and pirating are both taking something that is not rightfully yours, but they are barely in the same category of crime.

Pirating is sharing something not rightfully yours, not taking. Making and circulating copies is illegal, not receiving copies.

Does Canada really have draconian shoplifting laws that put people in prison "for a very long time" for stealing something the cost of a CD?

In US jurisdictions, that's a misdemeanor.

England has the concept of arrestable offences. There are criminal laws which go in front of a magistrate (or a judge & jury if severe enough).

Theft would be a criminal offence. Shop-lifting would be counted as theft.

Violating copyrights is illegal, but it's not a criminal offence. You're not going to be arrested for it. The Crown Prosecution Service won't do anything.

The rights holders can sue for loss of earnings - that's 79pence per track. They can try and sue for the stuff you've shared.

Copyright violation becomes criminal offence if done as part of trade - burning movies to DVD and selling them, for example.

I get the distinction he's making between civil and criminal liability, as I pointed out in my other comment (I just don't think it's useful to keep asserting). I was pointing out in that comment that he was making an unreasonable claim that someone could expect to go to prison for stealing a CD in Canada.

And unless the UK has draconian shoplifting laws I've never heard of, the same holds true there.

People get arrested for shoplifting. So they spend at least a couple of hours in police cells while they're getting booked.

People get fined for shoplifting. Sometimes they don't pay the fines. They go to prison for not paying fines.

It seems you in turn are having difficulty distinguishing "arrest" and "prison". The former involves being put in a jail (or "gaol") for a short period of time, while the latter involves being put in a prison for years on end.

Not for one CD, no. But many people who pirate music have amassed collections worth tens of thousands of dollars (had they been purchased legally). If you were to steal merchandise worth $20,000, yes, I think our laws are pretty strict about that.

Aren't you shifting the framing of the issue right there, suddenly going from "downloading an album" to amassing "collections" worth tens of thousands of dollars?

Also, Canada is signatory to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights; having collections of pirated material deemed to be of "commercial scale" is a criminal offense.

I get that you're trying to distinguish between what are often civil vs. criminal matters, but it's a bit of a stretch. "Stealing" is a term that gets used for a lot of things other than literal theft in criminal law.

> Aren't you shifting the framing of the issue right there, suddenly going from "downloading an album" to amassing "collections" worth tens of thousands of dollars?

No. While the large numbers illustrate my point better, the small ones hold true as well. Steal one album: arrest, criminal record. Download one album: nothing.

> Also, Canada is signatory to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights; having collections of pirated material deemed to be of "commercial scale" is a criminal offense.

I'll have to look into that - thanks.

You're not helping either.

Is reading a book in a library stealing? Listening to a song on the radio? Watching a show over broadcast TV? What if I avoid commercials and never buy the TV show or album on disc? In utter isolation is that any different than someone torrenting an album and never buying it?

And how does it change things if some people who torrent albums nevertheless spend money on music? The whole premise of sharing being "piracy" is the idea that uncompensated consumption represents a loss of a sale. But is that any more or less true than it is with radio or TV?

> Is reading a book in a library stealing?

No. The book was purchased. In some cases the book is purchased directly by the library. In other cases it was purchased by a citizen and then donated to the library when they were done with it. But in any case, each copy of the book (or CD or DVD) was purchased. You are borrowing a purchased copy and will return it when finished. Then someone else will borrow it. That is fair use. If you don't return it to the library, then it might be considered stealing.

> Listening to a song on the radio?

No. Radio stations have contracts in place with the various sources of the music that allows them to broadcast the music. Radio stations cover this cost by selling ads. Pay radio allows you to get the same content commercial free. But your subscription is covering the station's costs. I'm pretty sure there is some sort of royalty payments, but I'm not sure exactly how those work from one station to the next.

> Watching a show over broadcast TV?

No. TV stations a generally affiliates of a higher network that is actually creating the show. Other stations also pay for syndicated shows once they have reached a certain age. TV also uses the ad model and you also find pay stations (like HBO, etc). I would imagine the payment contracts in broadcast TV are also similar to radio.

> What if I avoid commercials...

This is an issue that scared the networks early on when things like TiVo and other DVRs were popping up. I'm pretty sure that commercial avoidance is pretty similar to web ads in that you can't force people to watch them. Even if you were watching it live and could not fast forward... that is typically when you would use the toilet or grab a snack.

So the big difference between all those things and piracy is that those things are approved methods of controlled content delivery and each has a payment structure in place that allows the content creator to receive compensation. Straight up piracy lacks that compensation.

> how does it change things if some people who torrent albums nevertheless spend money on music?

Doesn't matter. That is like saying it is ok to jump the subway turnstile today because you paid the fare 3 times last week.

>The book was purchased.

For most things to appear on BT or elsewhere, someone has to buy them first, too. Your argument, therefore, is invalid.

As for the rest, your whole point hinges on "it's approved content distribution". I say that is bullshit. You can and should not be able to control distribution of digital content. It's one of the greatest blessings of humanity to be able to access, hand on and build upon its shared heritage. We should embrace it as the monumental achievement it is - but here we are, having to justify it.

This entire "problem" amounts to an industry that is - excuse the language - butthurt about having lost their business model to technological progress, and feels entitled to being granted an exception by cementing said business model into law. This needs to stop before any more permanent damage is done.

>each has a payment structure in place that allows the content creator to receive compensation. Straight up piracy lacks that compensation.

Allow me to laugh, because the last people who benefit by this system are content creators. If you seriously believe copyright is, was or will be for creators, you're in for a bad surprise if you ever take a look at the history of what probably was the most harmful idea mankind ever allowed to happen.

And many of the compensation methods are merely forced monopolies, which don't have any validity beyond "the law says so". The law is wrong. It therefore needs to be changed. As long as that hasn't been done: ignore it. Subvert it. Attack it. In other words: pirate. And try to support the creators, while you're at it. And I mean the creators, not the copyright industry.

>For most things to appear on BT or elsewhere, someone has to buy them first, too. Your argument, therefore, is invalid.

The fundamental difference is that BT assumes you make a copy. Everyone who gets a copy has that copy forever, essentially gaining all the benefits of purchase. At a library, however, you get it for 3 weeks and then you bring it back. It's protected by the doctrine of first sale which says that I can do what I wish with the physical thing that I own, include lending it or reselling it. Digital copies are not "lent" they are copied and never need to be returned.

>Allow me to laugh, because the last people who benefit by this system are content creators. If you seriously believe copyright is, was or will be for creators, you're in for a bad surprise if you ever take a look at the history of what probably was the most harmful idea mankind ever allowed to happen.

This argument... is patently untrue. If I publish a book, everyone who buys a copy puts money in my pocket. Everyone who downloads it without buying it gets all the benefits of my work without compensating me. To make the argument your making is unfair to all the people who make their living producing content.

Here's the deal, I get your point. I agree with it. I think the content industry (I make a distinction from the copyright industry because I think copyright, in its intended form is a good thing) is crappy. It continually tries to subvert our rights (our right to the free flow of information, i.e. net neutrality, our right to the public domain, our right to use our content, our right to fair use, etc.). That's bad. But don't walk around trying to say that downloading stuff is not stealing. It is. Don't consume the content if the industry bothers you that much. Buy your music directly from artists, go to the opera, read only public domain books, whatever, hell, even steal it, but don't pretend you're doing the writer or musician a favor.

>Everyone who gets a copy has that copy forever, essentially gaining all the benefits of purchase.

So? If I really wanted, I could make a copy of a book from the library, too. The possibilities are endless, but all of them are less convenient and cost more than a digital copy. Other than that, there is no factual difference. Your argument is still invalid.

>This argument... is patently untrue.

Except it isn't. Unless you define "benefits from the system" as "gets a very small slice of the overall profits from a sale, the rest of which is swallowed by a useless industry".

>Everyone who downloads it without buying it gets all the benefits of my work without compensating me.

Am I obliged to pay you? No. You demand to be payed for the costless act of copying your book. That's ridiculous. If you want to be compensated for actually writing the book, find alternate ways of doing so (there's Kickstarter, for example). Nobody is entitled to make a living of selling copies of a non-scarce good. It's cool if you can, but not if that involves needing an artificial monopoly on said non-scarce good.

I take the liberal approach here: I can't force you to give me things, but neither can you stop me (or others) from sharing them.

>But don't walk around trying to say that downloading stuff is not stealing.

But it isn't, no matter how much you some people try to insist it is. There is no valid definition of "stealing" that could be applied to the act of sharing digital data. None. Argumentum ad nauseam won't make it any more true, either.

>Don't consume the content if the industry bothers you that much. Buy your music directly from artists, go to the opera, read only public domain books, whatever, hell, even steal it, but don't pretend you're doing the writer or musician a favor.

How is this mutually exclusive? I enjoy going to concerts - which is how musicians can (and do) make money these days. I also have quite a lot of merchandise in the form of T-shirts. Services and services - both are business models with a future. Charging for exclusive access to a non-scarce resource, by contrast, isn't.

> "gets a very small slice of the overall profits from a sale, the rest of which is swallowed by a useless industry".

Yet every day new bands are signing up with this 'useless industry' trying to gain more exposure and money than they would without this 'useless industry'.

> Am I obliged to pay you? No. You demand to be payed for the costless act of copying your book. That's ridiculous.

This statement is utterly ridiculous. Just because something is easy to copy means it should be free? I can easily copy a 100$ bill on my Xerox machine at work, I should be able to do this without consequence? You must not be in the content creation industry and rely on it to pay your rent. The art, creativity and experience are where the value lies in a book, not in the 'copy', so yes I as a content creator do have a right to charge you to enjoy my art.

Content will become scarce indeed if no one pays for it, unless clever side-channel monetization props it up. It is not clear that is desirable. Are you familiar with copyright's justification in the US Constitution, by the way? It is a time-imited monopoly designed to promote progress in science and arts.

>Content will become scarce indeed if no one pays for it

An common, but unproven claim, which also confuses content creation with distribution. It's the monopoly over the latter that I and many others object to. We are currently seeing the beginning of an era where sharing and remixing is giving rise to an unprecedented number of new art and culture. It has never been easier to produce content.

>It is a time-limited monopoly designed to promote progress in science and arts.

Though I'm from Europe, I'm quite familiar with that phrase, and I don't buy it. The problem with it is that it's from a time where the copyright industry was, to a certain degree, necessary for the dissemination of content. The founding fathers could have never even anticipated something like the Internet and technological advancements like BitTorrent and other file-sharing services, which pretty much invalidate a lot of the assumptions made when the constitution was written.

Also, as far as I remember, copyright is merely something congress is allowed to make laws about, not a constitutionally granted right.

Thomas Jefferson was strongly against the idea of intellectual property. http://bit.ly/JJa8Va

"He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

You seem to have your mind made up and no amount of rational and logic thought will change that. So I will simply wish you good luck in life. I hope one day you create something that everybody wants but you end up pennyless because everyone just shared it for free. Good day.

> For most things to appear on BT or elsewhere, someone has to buy them first, too. Your argument, therefore, is invalid.

The difference is that the book still only exists as one copy that is transferred from one entity to another. This is fair use. That is the same reason it is ok to give/sell your cd to someone else. You have relinquished ownership of it and passed it to someone else. That is how the used goods market works. That does not include making copies of something to distribute. My argument about books is not invalid.

It was my mistake to use the word "creator" instead of "source". Yes, the creator generally does not benefit as such. That is between him and the label/distributor/etc. How noble of you to stick up for the underpaid content creator by not paying for the result of his work at all. I applaud you, sir.

For everything else you said... heard it before. Don't buy it. It is all just rationalizing the behavior.

That's doctrine of first sale, not fair use, btw.

yes. you are correct. fair use is something else.

> It's one of the greatest blessings of humanity to be able to access, hand on and build upon its shared heritage. We should embrace it as the monumental achievement it is - but here we are, having to justify it.

I do love it when people wax poetic when it comes to piracy discussions online like this. By the above you mean the monumental achievement it is like having access to data such as the Human Genome Project, or online journals and data related to AIDS, cancer and other research correct?

Please don't try and state it is a human right to have free, immediate access to the latest Lady Gaga album and Game of Thrones for free.

I do love it when people people in online discussions about piracy try to downplay the value of Free[1] sharing to "the latest Lady Gaga album or Game of Throne". It's a lot more than that. The implications are huge. They include a lot of what you mentioned, and more.

[1]: Free as in speech, like with Free Software. Copyright and protection of Free Speech are mutually exclusive. You can't have one while having the other.

Also, I should note that as the copyright holder for a book I wrote, I believe it would benefit me (creator) if I ever found my work being distributed without my consent. I don't see it as the most harmful idea mankind ever allowed to happen. Does it get abused? sure it does. But so does BitTorrent, no?

In the typical case most radio stations acquire the music they play for no cost.

What now?

I don't believe that radio stations do not a) compensate the music source in some way or b) have an agreement with the source otherwise authorizing them to broadcast it. If they don't, then that is between them and the source. You are not involved in that part.

It's b. Producers pay radio stations to advertise their music. It is called payola.

> Is reading a book in a library stealing? Listening to a song on the radio? Watching a show over broadcast TV? What if I avoid commercials and never buy the TV show or album on disc? In utter isolation is that any different than someone torrenting an album and never buying it?

Who are you asking? Because libraries (books; music; games) have all been attacked by industry. Radio has been attacked by industry. Advert-avoidance technology has been attacked by industry.

Disney freaked out when video was introduced because they couldn't work out how to charge each person for watching the movie. They'd have one sale, but a mom and pop and two kids would be watching, and three of them wouldn't have paid.

Rational thought is going to fail when you're up against that.

Interestingly, Blizzard's implementation is so bad that I actually get better throughput by disabling P2P.

It makes no sense but I had several hours to play with it while waiting for SC2. I found similar complaints on their forums so hopefully they'll fix it someday.

I recall getting Blizzard's implementation working pretty well after going through a maze of help topics and finding particular ports that I needed to enable forwarding for.

yeh but the PTP dowload for wow sucks I get faster speeds turning it off

It's used for a lot of legal videos as well, like Sita Sings the Blues http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/wiki/index.php?title=SitaSi... also Vodo uses BT to distribute their movies. http://vodo.net/ Revision3 used to run their own tracker with only their own videos listed, but there was some legal trouble so they shut it down. I'm seeding Geocities from http://archiveteam.org/index.php?title=GeoCities but that's pretty niche :) I'm also seeding a bunch of videos from a hacker conference (CC licensed).

Bittorrent exists to make it easier to download large files or sets of files. Large files tend to fall into two major categories: media (video and audio), and large software distributions (.isos or other software updates). So, it doesn't seem at all surprising that bittorrent primarily gets used for downloading media files and software distributions. Both of those categories include many perfectly legitimate downloads, as well as some that infringe someone's copyright.

In the past 5 months I've downloaded via BitTorrent 35 music albums, 4 game patches, and 2 full games, all acquired legally.

What legal outlet distributes music via Bittorrent?

http://www.jamendo.com/ probably others too.

The Humble Bundles and Game Music Bundles have nearly everything they offer as torrents.

etree and the Live Music Archive.

3) Game patching (Blizzard (WoW, Starcraft, Diablo), Wargaming.net (World of tanks))

4) Distributing music and movies legally (Sub Pop, Nine Inch Nails, CBC)

5) Backend updates for distributed server systems (Facebook, Twitter)


Louis CK's non-DRM shows got some HN love the other day.

I paid my $5 and proceeded to download, but I have a crappy connection and kept getting disconnected. LCK puts a 4 download limit on his shows.

Easiest thing to do was to find a torrent. I'd already paid my $5, so I felt OK about it. Bonus: it downloaded faster than from his site, and he didn't have to serve all the bits.

Wait he's got no DRM but he's slapped a 4 download limit on them? Unless I've misunderstood that seems a bit weird

He doesn't want you to use his server as a backup.

I could imagine a very efficient and quick way for system updates could be built this way. Would reduce hosting and bandwidth costs for the system developers / maintainers and could improve the speed and availability of updates.

The only immediate concern that springs to mind is that if you manage to crack into this channel, you could potentially gain access to millions of computers in next to no time. In fact, I believe botnets work similar to this (from what I can remember of the Reddit botnet AMA...

If I remembered correctly, Facebook uses this method to deliver their 1GB PHP-converted-to-C++-then-compiled binary to their server farms because that's the only way they can update without crashing some central servers.

Kazaa already did it. That was their business model.

It doesn't matter what the common use-case is. BitTorrent is better than traditional server->client downloads.

"Oh, pirates are the most common users of BitTorrent? But BitTorrent is better than traditional server->client downloads. More companies/people/whatever should be providing BitTorrent alternatives for downloading."

"Oh, pirates are the most common users of BitTorrent? But BitTorrent is better than traditional server->client downloads. It's a shame, but I guess we have to hinder BitTorrent traffic. Oh, what could have been!"

Miro tried to make it popular, by using it to download periodical video episodes (like news) updated using RSS with .torrent attachments.

Nine Inch Nails distributes their public remix material by BitTorrent. With session files getting into the many-megabytes I don't believe they'd be able to afford this without BitTorrent, given the number of fans downloading their raw material to remix.

"Downloading Linux distributions"

Except at my work, where they monitor and squash torrent connections. Sigh. OK, so I'll tie up the work internet downloading one big file from one busy place.

Maybe for the client, but another place you can see extensive use of P2P is in gaming. Quite a few game clients have the Peer to Peer downloading built in.

It's used for distributing large data sets as well, though I suppose whether that's a widespread use is arguable.

3) Downlading World of Warraft

> One of the things that drives me crazy is the belief in Hollywood that bittorrent exists solely for stealing things. Efforts to explain that this is not necessarily true are often met with hands clamped tightly over ears, accompanied by "I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA."

When has this actually happened? I don't know of anyone who has said that bittorrent is inherently illegal, they've just argued that it's mostly used for illegal activities. It's not that bars are illegal, it's that 80% of the people in that bar meet to smuggle things on the black market. That invites attention toward the medium.

It's a valid complaint. Bittorrent is abused for piracy a lot. It's silly to pretend otherwise. But this is a case where you can't shut down the medium just because it's abused. In some cases it actually is a perfectly valid solution, but this just isn't one of them.

I think that they might come to understand that, but I don't think they assume bittorrent is itself illegal. They just see it as a medium for copyright infringement. Who wouldn't at least consider attacking a widely abused medium?

What's faster than one mirror and works when bittorrent doesn't? Twenty mirrors:

  aria2c --split=20 MIRROR1 MIRROR2 MIRROR3 MIRROR4 … MIRROR20

Why do ISPs even bother try to shut down BitTorrent? It is not the protocol that makes people share files. If file-sharers had to they would be sharing files over SMTP. Instead the media companies and ISPs should be using BitTorrent as a way to reduce their distribution costs.

Because it's very bandwidth efficient. It will try to maximize the bandwidth it has available to download and upload which ISP do not want. Sustained 100% usage of your bandwidth is not what they optimize for.

At least that's what I think is their reasoning.

BitTorrent moves the bandwidth load towards the street-level networking gear, which is expensive to upgrade because there's lots of it. The copyright lobbies just give them a convenient excuse for getting rid of the problem.

Because lots of people only can BitTorrent. If you stop BT, then lots of your customers who are using bandwidth will give up and get their pirated files elsewhere. A dedicated advanced minority will not.

The purpose of blocking isn't to block all pirating (which it fails at), but to significantly reduce bandwidth (which it does).

Of course the people who wont listen to you are probably ignorant enough to think that using free software is stealing the opportunity of a proprietary software developer to make a sale.

It's too bad debtorrent hasn't taken off. It won't happen until it's made available by default.

I think Hollywood should try one of the following:

1.) Limited, free, online streaming of films (a la NPR doing previews of new music releases).

2.) Seed torrents of films that are heavily advertised. Essentially, give consumers the whole film, but overlay ads during it or edit in commercial breaks.

3.) Post the first :30 minutes of new films as torrents/streaming and offer a few bucks off your movie ticket if you check it out in theaters.

Any of these could easily be attempted for a new major release. Pick a film that's almost guaranteed to be a hit and try one of the above. You're bound to get some interesting data either way.

Ubuntu is the only thing I ever use BitTorrent for and I'm so happy BitTorrent exists when I need to download Ubuntu

I've always thought that using some sort of internal torrent mechanism would be a good way for applications to download their updates, especially something like Chrome, which updates quite frequently.

Bittorrent integration with Steam would be a godsend on release days. Obviously they would need to consider those users whose uploads count towards their limit, but still.

No one realy needs to use bit torrent to download distros I must have built 10 od machines from distros in the last 9 months - just dowload the net isntall (which is tiny) and do it that way

Will is clutching at straws here

you just made their case against bittorrent easier!

Ubuntu have a bittorrent client, and everyone knows that's only used to pirate movies and music! so it's a facilitator.

Yo liberals, let me go hunting with an AK-47.

Not a good choice for hunting. AK's have pretty terrible aim, sure you can throw them in mud or have rocks in the magazine and they will work but the accuracy is hardly worth it. I have an ak merely because it looks cool. If you must use a semi-automatic to go hunting get an ar-15.

Sure, compared to some other rifles it's not as precise, but I can shoot you in the head from a distance of 150 m - and I'm not exactly Thomas Beckett. There were guys in my ex-platoon who could shoot you in the eye.

(Not that I want to shoot you :)

You can, even in pinko California. Just make sure you get a bullet button kit for your AK and you're set to go. If you want an automatic, I'm not finding any hard and fast rules for if fish and game allows it, but if you pay your $200 tax stamp and get approved by the sheriff, it's totally cool.

I don't think your decision is very logical, though. An AK-47 is a pretty craptastic rifle -- unless you're going to be trudging for miles and miles without a cleaning kit, you don't need its legendary reliability. If you need the rapid fire, then there are one of two issues here. The first, is that the deer are coming at you in such quantities and ferocity that suppressive fire is needed, then you're going to need at least a platoon sized group here, possibly with airstrike backup, and well-coordinated plans for dealing with the cervine hordes. Either that, or you are a pretty crappy shot, and need to spend some range time before you try hunting.

An AK is an assault rifle, not so good for hunting. A nice Remington 700 will do you better. But if you really want to... who's stopping you?

While a Rem 700 would certainly be a more accurate and effective rifle, it is also significantly more expensive to purchase and feed than an AK variant or SKS would be. 7.62x39mm is dirt cheap, as are rifles capable of firing the round, and that is a strong selling point for impoverished families who help feed themselves by hunting.

OK that's a good point.

It is illegal in at least some parts of the USA... still not sure how it's related to bit torrent and Linux though.

I believe they are trying to compare the argument for not blocking BitTorrent to an argument for less gun control.

Argument A: While BitTorrent is widely used for piracy, it has practical uses too so please don't ban it outright.

Argument B: While the AK-47 is widely used for mass shootings, it has practical uses too so please don't ban it outright.

Argument X: While [some thing] is widely used for [some bad stuff], it has practical uses too so please don't ban it outright.

But as others have pointed out, the AK-47 is not a suitable hunting weapon... unless you plan to totally mess up the deer.

Totally mess up the deer? I'm not sure how you've come to that conclusion.

An AK-47 fires a 7.62x39mm round, which is smaller than rounds like a .30-30 (7.62x51) or .30-06 (7.62x63), commonly used for deer hunting.

And as I mentioned in another comment, while an AK-47 is not an ideal rifle for hunting, it is a very cost effective choice.

The AK-47 is capable of getting out more rounds in less time than a traditional hunting rifle. So you'd be able to shoot the crap out of something a bit easier. So if that was your plan then the AK-47 is ideal. Otherwise... not so much. That was all.

You do realize the vast majority of AK-47s (at least those available in the US for less than $10k) are semi-automatic, right?

Doesn't matter. Parent post made no mention of what type of AK-47 they were using and where. The fact remains, AK-47s can be full-auto thus are capable of putting out more rounds faster. If you would like to go with the assumption that the parent post was referring to only a semi-auto AK-47 (in the US?) then we can certainly agree that it would not mess up a deer any more or less than a traditional hunting rifle. I'm cool with that. ;)

A typical AK-47 is select fire. So someone hunting deer with a fully automatic capable AK-47 would likely set it to semi-automatic.

So good for poachers then :-)

This is also like saying that making food widely and cheaply available encourages overeating which causes obesity, which is bad, so we should ration food.

You could say that providing subsidies that make unhealthy processed food artificially cheap tends to increase obesity. In fact, I think that that's the consensus view of experts on the issue.

That argument is about not giving bittorrent traffic first priority, and not offering AK-47 scholarships.

I have no doubt that there is a would-be authoritarian (or two) out there proposing precisely that.

Oh? I know there are restrictions, like magazine size etc. but I didn't know it was outlawed.

Comparing hacking tools to weapons might be a clever hack to get the US courts to allow you to use it, however that'll be used against the rest of the world. "Sorry we have to ban this, it's a weapon! Even the US courts think it's a weapon!"

Please consider hackers all over the globe.

That takes me back to the days of "military strength encryption", in the 90s, when you weren't allowed to let any code that used a longer than 40-bit encryption key to leave the country because it was too dangerous.

Clever hack of the legal system? Good luck. A similar argument was tried in the old days of ITAR v. Crypto and it never worked.

Good luck hitting a whitetail at 400 yards with one of those.

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