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Ask HN: How can torrents be legally used for distributing copyrighted content?
6 points by anoncow on Feb 3, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 2 comments
In most countries distributing third-party copyrighted content without appropriate rights is illegal. People downloading such illegal content using torrents are often accused of distributing copyrighted material because of how the technology works. While downloading such content is a crime in Japan(and possibly some other places), it is the uploading part which is a crime almost everywhere and which causes torrent users trouble.

When a party, for example Humblebundle, releases copyrighted content using torrents, the end user ends up doing two things.

1. Download content from peers and seeds(which may include official humblebundle peers and people like the end user who have already downloaded the content)

2. Upload content to other peers who do not have the complete content.

I have read humblebundle's Terms of Service and nowhere does it mention that the end user has redistribution rights for the content.

Staying with the example, if HB wants to help users legally torrent the content it can add a line in the terms saying the user can download and seed content via torrent. Perhaps such permission is implied anyways when HB is offering torrents on their website, but it certainly leaves a gray area which might be abused by copyright holders in other cases.

How can torrents be legally used for distributing copyrighted content without the end user ending up illegally distributing it to unknown third parties?

You're thinking like an engineer, not like a lawyer. Does HumbleBundle expect you to use the official distribution channel, which is a torrent? Clearly, yes, so using the official distribution channel (and all subparts of that operation) must be OK with them. (This is called "implicit license." It doesn't have to be explicitly spelled out in the ToS, just like most non-pedantic lawyers won't bother to write "We grant you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to make one (1) copy of our webpage within your computer system for the purpose of 'caching.'")

Rightsholders can arrange for many, many things which are illegal for non-rightsholders to unilaterally decide to do. That puts the "rights" in "rightsholder."

>>>and nowhere does it mention that the end user has redistribution rights

What's not prohibited is implied as allowed. You are worrying over nothing.

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