The last year has been one of the most hectic in BitTorrent’s short-lived history. While the three largest BitTorrent sites – The Pirate Bay, Mininova and isoHunt – all faced setbacks in court, the number of BitTorrent users continued to steadily grow.
The new year starts without The Pirate Bay tracker, which was closed in November, and also without Mininova, which saw its site being censored and stripped down by a Dutch court. To counter these losses, several public tracker-only services have made a comeback along with multiple torrent-only storage sites.
Where do we go from here? Let’s make some predictions.
Prediction 1: The Pirate Bay will cease to offer torrent links
After closing its tracker in 2009, The Pirate Bay will further evolve by removing all torrents from its index in the new year. The site will be reduced to a BitTorrent platform that no longer stores torrent files. Users will still be able to submit torrents through a third party service such as Torrage, but instead of linking to these torrent files, The Pirate Bay will list only Magnet links.
During the second half of 2010, The Pirate Bay four will appear before the Appeal Court. They will be found ‘not guilty’ and walk away free. Shortly after this victory in court, Pirate Bay’s YouTube killer The Video Bay will be released to the public.
Prediction 2: A BitTorrent client will be dragged to court
In 2009, the entertainment industry and authorities took legal action against various BitTorrent users and numerous sites. They left BitTorrent clients alone, but this will change in the new year. A coalition of copyright holders will file a lawsuit against one of the major BitTorrent clients, in an attempt to stop the ever increasing piracy rate.
The copyright holders will argue that BitTorrent clients play a vital role in downloading and uploading copyrighted files, and that the software is assisting in copyright infringement. They will demand that the torrent client implements a filtering mechanism to prevent users from downloading movies, music or games without the permission of the copyright holder.
Prediction 3: More people will use BitTorrent anonymously
2010 is the year where copyright holders gain more control over the Internet. Three-strikes legislation will be rolled out in various countries and global trade agreements such as ACTA will result in humongous fines for casual downloaders.
As a result of this newly founded Internet police state, millions of BitTorrent users will take measures to hide their identities online. By the end of the year, a quarter of all BitTorrent users will use a VPN service or similar anonymity software, with another quarter looking to do so in the following 12 months. This will make new legislation ineffective, and lead to further lobbying by the entertainment industry for even harsher anti-piracy measures.
This cycle will repeat itself until the entertainment industry decides to innovate.
Prediction 4: BitTorrent (live) streaming will take off
Advances in technology and growing broadband penetration have brought us to a point where BitTorrent-powered streaming solutions have become reality. BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen is working on a streaming implementation and experiments have shown that it is possible to stream high definition content.
In the second half of 2010, the first BitTorrent-powered YouTube competitors will be launched. These new BitTorrent sites will mainly offer streams of pirated movies and TV-shows. Live BitTorrent streaming will gain worldwide traction during the 2010 soccer world cup in South Africa. In the second half of the year, commercial implementations will follow, allowing broadcasters to stream live content at zero cost.
Prediction 5: uTorrent will become a resource hog
In 2010, uTorrent will be transformed from a lightweight BitTorrent application into a media portal similar to its nemesis, Vuze. Unlike Vuze, BitTorrent Inc. will continue to offer a lightweight uTorrent version for the the people who don’t want to make this switch, preventing a revolt among conservative uTorrent users.
The new uTorrent will be a resource hog, featuring a full blown search engine, video conversion, iTunes integration and a video player. The browser interface will allow uTorrent to be put on set-top boxes, which opens up the possibility for BitTorrent Inc. to reopen a new and improved version of their video store that can be easily hooked up to TVs.
Due to the changes, uTorrent will obviously have to remove its tagline ‘a (very) tiny BitTorrent client.’
Happy new year to all of you from TorrentFreak. Let us know what your predictions are for 2010 in the comments below. We will feature the best on our side-blog FreakBits during the coming days.