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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Torrent of file-sharing

The low-key P2P service that file-sharers at your house have at least heard of is true to its name. BitTorrent's users are trading a veritable torrent of data online, accounting for "an astounding 35% of all the traffic on the Internet" and more than all the file-sharing services combined," Reuters reports. Citing the findings of UK Web analysis firm CacheLogic, Reuters adds that this P2P traffic "dwarfs mainstream traffic like Web pages" - giving us a feel for how much file-sharing is a part of online activities. The content in that very active data stream is both legal (e.g., video game promos, Linux software code, garage band music) and copyrighted material (movies, tunes, software), according to Reuters. BitTorrent's also true to its name because of the way it works - users don't download whole movie or TV show files, for example, they download fragments of them from other users who have asked for the same collection of fragments that the show or movie represents. The BitTorrent software knits the fragments together so you can see the whole show on your screen. That innovation is what makes this third-generation P2P service so "fast," in other words able to traffic in such huge files as films so efficiently. EDonkey, another popular 3G file-sharing service, reportedly works similarly. The fact that there's so much legal content being shared on BitTorrent is what experts are saying could provide it with more legal protection than older services like Kazaa have enjoyed. At the bottom of the article, Reuters lists four all-legit sites for downloading movies and music.

In other P2P news, the RIAA announced another round of lawsuits, this time against 750 alleged copyright infringers, the Los Angeles Times reports (the movie industry is set to follow suit shortly with as many as 200 lawsuits of its own, The Register reports). On the carrot side of anti-piracy efforts, Sony BMG - in a surprise move "breaking from the rest of the entertainment industry" - announced it would cooperate with the Grokster P2P service on "a venture that combines free music sampling with paid downloads," the L.A. Times also reports. They're calling the venture "Mashboxx."


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