In a recent interview with InfoWorld, the co-founder of BitTorrent Inc, Ashwin Navin made an interesting statement, one we just couldn’t help but question. He says BitTorrent.com filters out illegal content.
Published today, InfoWorld’s interview with Mr. Navin is about BitTorrent Inc’s new relationship with Hollywood as they try and build a content delivery system using BitTorrent, and DRM (we’re pissed about the latter). When asked about the illegal torrents that BitTorrent.com indexes and if the company was planning to remove them, Ashwin Navin said, “Absolutely. BitTorrent.com is filtered so that we will not surface links for unlicensed content.”
It’s interesting how BitTorrent Inc’s focus has shifted to include DRM and be restricted to only legal content. The initial goal of BitTorrent.com was to index all the various movies, music, TV shows and other files available over BitTorrent. Wired News reported in 2005 on the upcoming launch of the site that was going to be “an advertising-supported search engine dedicated to cataloging and indexing the thousands of movies, music tracks, software programs and other files for download.”
We recently wrote about how BitTorrent.com was helping game developers distribute demos. In that article we profiled the strategy game Disciples II: Dark Prophecy. It was only a demo. But if you type “Disciples” into the search box on BitTorrent.com, you’ll find both the demo and a pirated version of the full game. Or try searching for “Prison Break” and see what you find. Each one of the 29 results you get is a copyrighted file. How exactly do these “filters” work?
How does BitTorrent.com get all this illegal content? It obviously doesn’t have an active uploading community like The Pirate Bay or Torrentspy. Instead, it indexes other torrent sites like The Pirate Bay, Meganova, Torrent Portal and TorrentReactor.
So, our question is, How is BitTorrent.com different from any other so-called illegal torrent site that indexes copyrighted content? Btmon.com does exactly the same thing! Sure, BitTorrent.com’s frontpage is full of game demos, legal music downloads and movie trailers, but one little search query away is just about every popular movie, TV show, music album and computer game.
In our minds, and according to US law, what BitTorrent.com is doing is not illegal. The DMCA clearly states that websites are only required to take down files if the copyright holder or a representative files a complaint. But why does the MPAA sue sites like Isohunt and Torrentspy (who also respect the DCMA), while they’re in bed with BitTorrent?
Dan Glickman (MPAA) and Bram Cohen (BitTorrent)