As BitTorrent Inc. convinces the world that they offer a great distribution platform, they’re also going the extra mile to state that it doesn’t pair well with a VPN or proxy advertiser. The company behind the popular file-sharing client uTorrent is rejecting ads from VPN provider TorGuard, stating that the service is considered “high risk”. In a rather ironic plot twist, the VPN provider would be welcomed as long as it changes its name and logo, and remove all references to “BitTorrent,” “torrent” and uTorrent from its website.
To protect themselves against excessive monitoring, security exploits and ISP throttling, many BitTorrent users have taken an interest in anonymizing services such as VPNs and proxies.
Not surprisingly, providers of such services are eager to advertise their products to this ‘niche’ group. Many VPN providers are buying ads through Google and other ad-networks, but there is a more direct method.
Last year BitTorrent Inc. added advertisements to its uTorrent and BitTorrent clients, which cater to over 150 million monthly users. The owner of VPN and proxy provider TorGuard therefore made inquiries to the San-Francisco based company to learn more about advertising opportunities, but he was in for a surprise.
In a phone conversation the Vice President of advertising at BitTorrent Inc. told TorGuard that his brand was not a good match since it’s categorized as “high risk.” According to BitTorrent, TorGuard is seen as a service that promotes the use of torrents, which is apparently not allowed.
To find out what is wrong with his service, TorGuard agreed to an extensive review by BitTorrent Inc’s legal team and late last week the final verdict came in. The VPN provider is welcome to advertise with BitTorrent, but not before all torrent related references are removed.
To be accepted, TorGuard has to remove the “tor” from its brand name and website URL, because this directly relates to torrents. In addition, all images even remotely relating to BitTorrent or torrents in general have to go. And it doesn’t stop there.
“Any text content containing the words ‘BitTorrent’,'utorrent’ or ‘torrent’ would also need to be removed. This would of course include landing pages, knowledge base articles, forum/blog posts, and more,” TorGuard’s Ben Van Pelt tells TorrentFreak.
The long list of demands is a bit much for TorGuard’s owner, who is baffled by the entire ordeal.
“Needless to say, we won’t be censoring any of these concerns and will continue to pursue other advertisement initiatives,” Van Pelt says.
“We’ve worked with some of the biggest names in marketing like Google, Cnet and Bing, but never expected censorship requests of this extent from the likes of BitTorrent. It really is wildly ironic,” TorGuard’s owner adds.
The question that remains is why BitTorrent doesn’t want to work with BitTorrent-friendly VPN and proxy services. After all, both the uTorrent and BitTorrent clients have built-in support for proxy connections. And like BitTorrent, VPNs and proxies are nothing more than a technology.
Before the weekend TorrentFreak asked BitTorrent Inc. for a comment on their rules and regulations regarding VPN advertisements, but we have yet to receive a response.
The irony of the situation is amplified by BitTorrent Inc’s ongoing attempts to distance itself from everything piracy related. Deals with content partners are hard to get when people associate your company with illegal downloading, and time and time again the company has been forced to explain that there are plenty of legitimate uses for BitTorrent.
However, BitTorrent now appears to be doing the same to TorGuard.
TorGuard’s owner tells TorrentFreak that he understands that BitTorrent is protecting its brand, but he disagrees with the way the company is going about it. He was willing to make a few changes here and there, but completely banning all references to torrents, suggesting these are somehow evil, is simply not an option.
“To me, the name ‘TorGuard’ first represents anonymity, overcoming censorship and encryption, before it has anything to do with BitTorrent,” Van Pelt concludes.