At this point, you’ve probably read about how popular Game of Thrones is on BitTorrent — and there’s at least one article calling the show “the once and future king of BitTorrent.” Well, it sounds like BitTorrent, the company developing the open source file-sharing protocol of the same name, is getting a bit tired of the coverage.
In a just-published blog post, the company’s vice president of marketing, Matt Mason (pictured), argues that it’s inaccurate to talk about a BitTorrent piracy record, because “piracy happens outside the BitTorrent ecosystem”:
We don’t host infringing content. We don’t point to it. It’s literally impossible to “illegally download something on BitTorrent.” To pirate stuff, you need more than a protocol. You need search, a pirate content site, and a content manager. We offer none of those things. If you’re using BitTorrent for piracy, you’re doing it wrong.
These so-called “records” are presumably based on numbers from pirate websites that have no affiliation with BitTorrent, Inc. If they’re corroborated using data from pirate websites, they’re “Internet Piracy Records”. They’re not “BitTorrent Piracy Records”.
I asked company spokesperson Christian Averill if the company is just trying to distinguish between BitTorrent the technology and BitTorrent the company. He said it’s more than that:
The piracy itself is happening outside of the protocol. The technology is exploited as part of [the] technology stack used for piracy. As such, it is only the pipes that content moves through. You can not rip a DVD with BitTorrent technology and there is no infringing content hosted on BitTorrent and pirated content is not promoted on BitTorrent.
Why is the company getting worked up about this? Probably because it’s increasing efforts to work with artists, labels, and other content companies on legal ways to promote and, eventually, monetize their work. (Last month we wrote about how the company is trying to “productize” these efforts through the BitTorrent Bundle.) Having its name constantly associated with piracy probably isn’t the most helpful thing for those discussions.
On that front, Mason notes that the show that’s supposed to have set the piracy record is the Game of Thrones season premiere, which was downloaded by 5.2 million people worldwide. (Actually, Mason refers to the finale, but I’m pretty sure he actually means the premiere.) However, he said that the show Epic Meal Time, which was shared legally on BitTorrent as a bundle, has been downloaded 8,626,987 times, making it “the real king of BitTorrent.”
Still, I’m guessing that changing the way people frame the discussion around piracy and BitTorrent is going to be a pretty steep uphill climb.