Last year Microsoft joined the movie and music industries by suing a major BitTorrent tracker. With approval from their United States headquarters, Microsoft went after the largest BitTorrent site in Lithuania, LinkoManija.
Demanding $45 million in damages, Microsoft accused the site and its operator of assisting in the illegal distribution of Office 2003 and 2007. The software giant failed to shut down the site through the courts, but the main trial against LinkoManija’s operator and his company is still ongoing.
Luckily, however, there are also copyright holders who see the BitTorrent tracker as a useful means to promote and distribute their works. Today, the independent movie production company Iron Cat announced that it has partnered with LinkoManija to distribute their upcoming film Barzda (The Beard), both in Lithuania and abroad.
The film will be distributed in collaboration with other torrent trackers to gain maximum exposure. Previously, Iron Cat experimented with sharing a movie on Linkomanija and this turned out to be a great success. The film “Knygnešys” (The Book Smuggler) was downloaded 25,000 times in the first day alone, generating a lot of press and positive comments from the public.
“We have been using Linkomanija for quite a while, so when an opportunity for mutually beneficial cooperation presented itself, we did not hesitate to take it. Of course, the popularity of Knygnešys was an important factor in this decision,” Bardza director Jonas Trukanas said, commenting on the news.
Linkomanija says that it will ensure that users notice the upcoming release.
“Our objective is to make the film accessible to the widest possible audience,” Linkomanija’s owner said in response to news of the unusual partnership.
If anything, the deal illustrates that BitTorrent trackers are more than the piracy havens they are often portrayed as. For many independent artists obscurity is still a bigger problem than piracy, but it’s a problem that BitTorrent can solve.
In the near future Linkomanija and Iron Cat hope to experiment further with new ways to finance and promote Lithuanian cinema.
Outside Lithuania, BitTorrent’s potential as a promotion, revenue generating and publishing platform for filmmakers has been illustrated best by the Vodo project. Through this BitTorrent powered project, several filmmakers have already reached an audience of hundreds of thousands of viewers, and today two major new releases (P1 episode 4 and Zenith part 2) were added to this list.
It may not be in the interests of the MPAA and the major movie studios, but it appears that BitTorrent does indeed democratize culture and media, whether they like it or not.