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I wrote a post on my blog that I don't think much of the Internet will care about, but I thought I would point it out here, because I get the sense that G+ is more tech minded than, uh, I don't know, someplace else.

Anyway, here it is.
Art Senexx's profile photoBuddy Olson's profile photoIain Abraham's profile photoAnthony Fleming's profile photo
I particularily enjoyed the footnote...
There are no winners. Only lawyers, and they don't count.
I concur. The topic is all relative to the person using the tool. Sure, I can go use my car as a getaway vehicle in a bank heist. Or, I could use it to pick up groceries for the old lady who needs help on my street.

The fact that I "could" use it for something illegal doesn't mean we should ban vehicles.
As an aside, once you put Ubuntu in that Virtualbox VM, be sure to install "virtualbox-guest-x11" package in the VM, then you can enable the 3D shizzle. Feedback about 12.04 is welcome :)
I use bittorrent all the time to download linux and other open source software - completely legal - and usually faster than direct download from a single server.
Right on +Wil Wheaton. Not so much that bittorrent is used for downloading pirated stuff, it is the technology behind it that makes it so useful and it doesn't have to be a front end but a back end to fast data transfers .... BTW I put 16gb into my iMac for $85+ and I am loving Virtual Box now - no more paging and beachballing
I used to also believe as you used to, and have also since evolved. :)
I always use the torrents, myself. For me it isn't about the speed but about saving bandwidth for Canonical, the least I can do to thank them for the free OS is to not put an unnecessary load on their servers.
Totally agree... On a similar note - I got so excited a couple of years ago about a rumor that suggested that ubuntu was thinking of delivering updates via a torrent-like service. I am blessed with good internet speeds where I live, it would have been awesome especially when I have just installed a new version of the OS and it tries to download all the things that have changed since the iso was created. Sadly... that rumor does not seem to have materialised :(
Games are another great example. Patching would be horrible without torrents.
Your Freeway analogy is quite probably a very good analogy when it comes to BitTorrent Wil.
I liked that blog post and was about to share the link to it here. I think I'll just share this post instead. Thanks, Wil!
At it's core, BitTorrent is a protocol, the same as TCP, FTP or HTTP. Blocking one makes as much sense as blocking the others: none at all. There will always be evolution of new protocols over time, and something will eventually supersede BT, and we'll have to go through this political grandstanding song-and-dance all over again.
I've never heard of a lobbiest giving the full facts in any argument they make. By definition they are there to promote a single side to try and get the best outcome for one party and bollocks to the rest of them.

I've used torrents for as long as I can remember and have found them an excellent way of sharing data. It really needs to be pushed as a more mainstream method, and the taboo needs to be killed with fire until its deader than a dead thing.
I just think that the content industry doesn't want you to share (even if it's totally legal and supposed to be free). So if legal stuff is shut down in the process they're ok with it - their argument is probably something like "every copy Linux downloaded is one copy of Windows not sold" - which reminds me of this gem from 2006, when the GOP claimed that Linux is un-american:
Yep, some of us only use bittorrent for isos and such. We purchase (or stream) our entertainment bits and have no quarrel with paying for content. When the entertainment industry treats us like thieves, we stop paying for content and find other ways to occupy our time.
Remember the days when pendrives were banned because they were used for illegal filesharing? Just wait a while, you soon will.
I think you're probably preaching to the choir here, but yah. BT is very useful outside of piracy.
I agree with you're statements 100% people need to really see how things work and not just the spin ..
Yep, that's a very good example of a legit and legal use case.
Ubuntu is one good case, but struggling game developers are probably a much better one. A lot of people use Ubuntu so a lot of people are willing to donate bandwidth to be a mirror, but if you've got a game client on the order of 1GB you've got two options:

1. Pay a hosting provider whatever the bandwidth costs.
2. Use BitTorrent.

Option 1 is fine for Blizzard, but if you're looking at a struggling company trying to make it in the world those few thousand dollars in hosting costs can mean the difference between survival and shutting down.
Glad you posted about #bittorrent . In the FOSS-world we use torrents all the time for distro sharing (etc), but as you stated in your industry it's not seen in that light. I hope your post reaches the mainstream. Kudos!
Yea, I can relate. Bittorrent is a tool just like any other. Sure, you can build a house or you can beat somebody's skull in with the same hammer, doesn't mean it's the hammer's fault. I'm not a big fan of the system all the same. Too many gotchas, too much caveat emptor. Too many barriers to entry. As I understand it, you've got to learn the technique, find a reasonably credible seed and then hope you don't get flagged by your ISP unless you want to do hours of prep work reasearching, setting up proxies and the like. I look at it this way, if piracy were really destroying the entertainment industry, well, how much did Avengers make? Opening weekend ALONE?
Great story Wil. Personally, I'd always steered away from torrents for the sole reason I thought I'd somehow get in trouble. I'm not a tech-newb or anything, just a little paranoid I guess.
lol, #bittorrent can't be THAT bad, Blizzard uses it to distribute its "Digital Copies" of Diablo 3, Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft...
Blizzard is slightly different in that they use private trackers, no? So can control precisely what is shared. The technology is the same however.
I'm glad this was posted as there really is a lot of value in peer to peer protocols and technology. How it's used is much more the issue than whether it should be or not. One thing that really frustrates me now though is seeing ISP's specifically limiting/throttling p2p traffic meaning methods like this which are entirely legit get negatively impacted.
I've been running for 7 years as a Linux Bittorrent site and its been a great place to find Linux Distributions for download via torrent. Even distros that do not release torrents on their own.
I've designed a signed code & content delivery mechanism to leverage a bittorent system for distributing game updates to users faster (and securely). Other games do this too, such as WoW. Also Revision3 uses bittorrent to deliver their content (or at least they did last I checked). Decentralization is here to stay, even if they manage to litigate BT away, we'll just call it something else: "Cooperative Downloading"
Even though some people and organizations are nice enough to host mirrors, downloading the torrent is always recommended, because it saves up bandwidth costs. For an open source project this actually matters.
Nice thoughts. I've had similar experiences with large, legal files. In fact, did the same thing with +Ubuntu.

Incidentally, I have really liked it and am using it exclusively on my desktop at home (moved away from Windows).
Also I'm pretty sure Blizzard uses torrent technology to distribute World of Warcraft updates. 7 million legal users right there.
+Tim Landers Well, they can make the protocol "Illegal", but we'll just use the same technology with another name...

IRC (Data transfer) --> eDonkey --> Nutella (GNUtella) --> eMule --> Torrents --> Next-P2P-Exploit-Possibly-On-SSL-Encrypted-Connection
As a side note - the last time I checked many MMO games (including World of Warcraft) use Bit Torrent to stream their client updates to the masses. It's cheaper for them, and faster for their users. If there are ISP's that block it, I wonder how many of those subscribers start going to other ISP's to be able to use the product they are paying for?
I've not used torrents for some years. Partly the paranoia of being accused of pirating things (possibly unfounded, but who knows in these troubled waters?). The other is that my older ADSL modems tend to get swamped by Bittorrent (not sure if it was buffers filling, too much NAT state to keep or something else).
we have looked into releasing the new version of Ascent - Commemorating Shuttle on bit torrent just because we want to make available to as many folks as possible and NASA isn't really setup for DVD/Blu Ray distribution.
Quite true.
But the rant of Hollywood is a pretext to keep people's consumis directed towards them, that I believe is the reason they won't hear any other logic than their own, even if there is no logic on their position.
I wish more people in Hollywood would see that point of view. Blizzard uses P2P to send patches out to WoW (and I bet D3 will also)
+1 for "*Longtime readers may recall that I did not always believe this, but I've, uh ... evolved ... on the issue."
Torrent sites do have a bad rap. But, it's not the torrent site that is at fault. They just provide a medium to get digital data from A to B. There is a larger amount of "legal" data on torrent sites than there is "illegal" data, but some users do upload and download "pirated" data. Thus the bad rap. Also, it was my first time to your blog - I think I need to add it to my feedburner. :)
+Wil Wheaton's best line in the whole article:
Personally, I think [forcing ISPs to block or degrade bittorrent traffic] is like closing down freeways because a bank robber could use them to get away
Most ISPs block or cripple torrent-traffic not because of IP-infringement issues, but because the increasing traffic is "hurting" their business model - so they claim - and forces them to invest into their infrastructure.
Thank you sir! Thank you for having the intellect to realize bittorrent is only a transfer protocol and not solely a pirating tool! A nice th�ing about a protocol, though, is that if the mentally stunted hollywood monkeys and their pet politicians do get their way, the tech world will just develop a new protocol... unless the law states any data transmission from one computer to another is deemed piracy. And i'd give you a +2 if i could because you even know of linux! Lol!
Not only does Blizzard use the BT protocol to distribute games and patches, but a number of companies, including Facebook, use BT to release code to their own servers. It has some significant legitimate business uses.
+Christoph Binder Actually, bittorrent clients try to download from people who are closer / faster. Ergo, it's cheaper for the ISP (less peering traffic), and they have less load (fewer hops in the routers). It's purely pressure from Big Media that's to blame. Sadly, as new media will force down their profit, copyright infringement will be even more the scapegoat.
My kingdom for an low-hassle and cheap way to legally procure media.

Hey HBO, can I get your online streaming stuff without paying $80 for the rest of cable TV? I want you to have my money. No? Oh, well then.

Hey, can I please own digital media like I own physical media? I want you to have my money. No? DRM servers? Oh, well then.
Tis true...I often find myself futzing about with new distros(and visit Distrowatch)...bittorrent is very handy for getting my hands on them.
Does Microsoft consider a bittorrent download of Ubuntu a lost sale? :-)
We NEVER have or had recieved all the facts. If people aren't clued into that already, that on them. The BIG FISH always wins.
The efficiency of the Bittorrent protocol is something that gets overlooked too. Its ability to check a file for accuracy is a powerful tool for people who are behind below average internet connections. The ability to start and stop whenever needed and just throw away the bits that were incorrect due to hashfails is very powerful.
Bit torrent is a wonderful way to distribute files. Personally, when I was in a group that does paranormal investigation, we were working on installing a system whereby we'd take our video off our video and still cameras, then create a torrent so that everybody in the group could download and help seed the files to each other for review purposes. It didn't save a TON of time because our pool was small, but it did help speed things up marginally in addition to only having to upload the file once in a manner that didn't create the necessity of configuring a dedicated server for the files. It just kind of cut out the middle man/program/hardware.
+Kevin Tibbs Exactly. I don't have HBO, and cannot due to geographical limitation, but they also restrict their Web content. Unless I move to the US, the only way I have access to these shows it through Piracy. It sucks, but it's the only way. What could REALLY scare media companies is if Netflix had live-TV streaming, (like watch the new The Simpsons or Family Guy with commercials online via a monthly subscription), but no, they refuse such things.
First of all, it's not stealing; copyright infringement is part of the civil code, not the criminal code. Second, it is not piracy; there are no naval vessel involved at all. Third, a "lost sale" is something someone thought of to justify getting paid for nothing; it doesn't exist in real life.

By using their absurd definitions, you are condoning their point of view. Please stop.
Thanks. It was a good post and not enough time is spent understanding how efficient and wonderful bittorrent is. It should be used by everyone and would save companies ton of money in bandwidth and ton of time for users. They only hold out to kill good technology only out of spite.
Blizzard uses a BitTorrent client for all of their game digital downloads. That's WoW, Diablo, Starcraft, including expansions and updates. With WoW alone making over two billion a year, Hollywood might want to stop and realize it's competitors are actually selling things with peer-to-peer as part of their business model.

Bottomline: If Hollywood sold content via BitTorrent they would make wildly more money. Going out of your way to make it hard to buy your product is a recipe for failure. And if your product is easy to sell as a digital download, avoiding BitTorrent is a recipe for bankruptcy.

Blizzard + BitTorrent = Winning
Hollywood + outlawing BitTorrent = Losing

The math seems pretty simple here.
Good post.

On a related note, +Wil Wheaton: for your consideration, a tiny addition to your CSS:

`h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, p, ol, ul, pre, blockquote { line-height: 140%; }`

Because I find those cramped lines are a bit hard to read. :)
To Echo Jon's comments, I'm currently downloading Diablo 3 at 5.8MB (yeah that's a big B) per second, downloading at this speed from a normal single peer service would cause severe strain on many internet pipes, not to mention the fact that MILLIONS of people are doing the same thing right now. When distributing it from many people via P2P services such as Bit Torrent it doesn't phase anyone or cause any harm to ANY service.

<3 Bit torrent, Fuck Hollywood... Learn to use technologies, not battle them
Thanks for posting this .... I did nit think I would really have a use for bittorrent but knowing this maybe it is something I will look into. I prise the way the net works currently and more information in the hands of the people that might benefit from it or learn from it is always good...

Blizzard games (WoW, SC2, Diablo 3) all distribute their patches via torrent swarms. Ubuntu as you found is a great example (and other linux distros). A lot of large open source software use torrents.

A fun one is OCRemix. They distribute their massive pool of video game remix music in torrents. SLAY Radio does as well, posting quarterly torrents containing all their new indie music.

Finally. Want to download all of Wikipedia??

I'm a software engineer working in game development.
As always, a very well written article Wil.
I've been thinking about downloading the newest one as well, thanks for reminding me!
G+ loves +Wil Wheaton for standing up against those Hollywood bullies! Torrents is a great tool!
Nice article Wil~

I agree. Bittorent is so useful, especially when you've got a LOT of folks downloading. I'm a computer networking major, and I definitely believe that if more of Hollywood and the Music industry embraced technology properly, they wouldn't have to worry nearly as much about piracy.

Most of the time I see piracy in cases where something people want is not available to them. So perhaps they should stop cutting backroom deals preventing themselves and others from making the content legally available to everyone. None of this "Only available at _ retailer" or selling a special edition exclusively to one country crap.

I respect a rights-holder's right to be the one to profit the most off of something, but I also believe they should not be shy in making their content available in as many formats and as many markets as humanly possible. None of this half-assed DRM bullshit or limiting what we can do with our copy of something, so long as we're not turning out copies and handing them out.

Some of us enjoy owning a hard copy, while others are content with cutting out all the middlemen and paying only the artist. Let the consumer choose what they want to do and they will more than likely pay, rather than pirate
I wish more things were distributed via torrent. It is so much more efficient.
Hey +Wil Wheaton is that a repost ?
I could swear I've read the same thing weeks ago ... über-déja-vu
I, too, did the Ubuntu torrent just recently. Crazy fast download, so I seeded till... I think 12:1 ratio. You're all welcome ;)
Blizzard is distributing Diablo 3 using p2p :) So +1 for excellence.
Thanks for putting this out there. Nice example.
I'm not a big torrent user, but just want to say that you are spot on by judging the tech-savviness of G+ users as compared to....The-Social-Network-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named. :)
It's probably an unfair comparison to make, comparing bittorrent to a freeway, considering a large portion of the traffic on there is illegal. If freeways had (let's say) 50% robbers on it, it would make more sense (although, then they'd probably be stuck in gridlock and easy to catch).

Anyway, that said, the argument that piracy is hurting sales is largely bogus. Piracy has existed throughout history and is very unlikely to get killed by censorship. What content creators should do is to price their content more reasonably and make it easier to access. At some point there needs to be a realization that creating a service that can compete with piracy is the best way to minimize it. Making your customers jump through hoops to buy and watch your content is a misguided way of punishing the people that try to do the right thing. A large portion of people pirating software would be willing to pay for it, if there only was an easy way of doing this.
Blizzard has been distributing their content using p2p for ages, +Esa Edvik. The World of Warcraft launcher is basically a BitTorrent client.
I learned something important here! Piratical is a word! Sweet!
To refine the analogy: If 90% of the drivers on the freeway speed, should the freeways be shutdown?
> It's probably an unfair comparison to make, comparing bittorrent to a freeway, considering a large portion of the traffic on there is illegal.

Citation needed?

The rebuttal is still interesting, because it seems to assert that if 50% of the traffic on the highway was due to thieves in getaway cars, that the highway itself is a bad thing, and not the thievery. (That said, three cheers for coherent conversation on the subject.)
I think the media creators must improve their distribution channels. The piracy offer a lot more in terms of technical improvements, convenience and reliability, for less or none money.
After Napster, who would think the world could buy more than 25 billions digital media downloads just from one store?
Sigh... OK, I'll go ahead and use a hammer to hit a fly - just because lots and lots of guns are used to do bad things, should guns be banned? Ah, I see. Well, how about all knives? Those too? Fine. Sticks? Stones?
The problem +Wil Wheaton is that most bittorrent traffic IS pirated material!

I'm blown away that this technology never took off in the broader realm of distributing files legally as you have just demonstrated. Maybe because it's a tiny bit confusing? (i.e. you download a file before you download the file) Or maybe the idea of sharing back? I don't know...
Oh how I wish I could '+1' more than once!! You make a very valid point, one that many of us have been trying to get the less tech-savy public to understand for a long time.
+Attila Asztalos Sticks and stones break bones!

I use bit torrent to download dj remix/mashup albums that are distributed for free.
Makes you wonder how public libraries, photocopiers and recordable DVD's haven't been publicly outlawed doesn't it?
If Blizzard relied on any other method I doubt they would have a reliable way to digitally distribute their games. When you consider the money it costs to get a boxed copy on retailer's shelves they are saving a fortune on Diablo.
The same is true for megaupload. I have never used it for downloading illegal content, only for things like Android ROMs and mod files for computer games. After the US government illegally closed it down, I found myself losing access to a lot of those files people post. That has been a real pain in the ass.
No citation available as I'm pulling that number out of thin air. I still think it's pretty safe to assume that at least 50-99% of bittorrent traffic is in one way or another not associated with legal downloads of ubuntu distros. +Adam Blinkinsop
I'm sure there is a girl group trading fingernail painting ideas..and using G+ to do it... "It's possible"
I like your side by side comparison of the ubuntu download. Another thing bit torrents are useful for, is distribution of material by artists that might not be signed to a label already. I've started seeing ads on certain sites actually promoting the free downloads. It's pretty sad when the so-called "victims" are embracing what the 21st century has to offer, but their record company is actually reducing the amount of people exposed to the product, by limiting it only to those who are willing to enter a credit card number. The reality is that musicians only make pennies on record sales, but record companies keep the lions share. Musicians as individuals, would probably be happy to give their music away for free in exchange for a guaranteed ticket or t-shirt sale. At least that's the impression I've gotten from those I've talked to. Once you eliminate the record company, downloading music is no longer piracy, just fantastic advertising.
Always loved the idea of podcasts spread via BitTorrent. The more popular a show is, the more seeds it has and the faster everyone can download it and everyone shares in the cost of distribution. It's very much a kind of elegant online socialism. ;)
Good point well made sir, sadly however the world (and especially the world of politics is not a meritocracy)
It's hard to find entertainers willing to speak out and use logic instead of thinking purely about money. I appreciate the good sense, back to fighting CISPA and the like!
Bit torrent doesn't kill people guns do.... wait thats not it. Bit Torrent doesn't steal media people do! Whats good for the goose is good for the cake and eat it to.
To assume that a majority of torrent users are using it for piracy is just plain idiotic.. consider how many game manufacturers use torrent file transfer to patch software legitimately...even some software companies have torrent links to download beta or distro software... by the time all this is taken into account and those users who like to share stuff that they have made openly(ie: indie music, movies, software) that is not a minority of people who use torrents that is a significant amount and those companies and government officials and others citing all use of torrents is for illegal copyright infringement.
I believe that those who work on movies, software, and music should get paid for what they do and work so hard on... however, the fact that once you buy a movie, piece of software, or a cd you can not return for faulty merchandise(to include crappy performances) should be considered wrong as well. If i don't do my job well I lose it and don't get paid... it doesn't mean i get to keep getting paid...i can't tell you how many dvds I own because I wanted to see the movie because a certain actor or actress was in it and now i feel that was the worst movie they made of their careers... yet they get to keep the royalties from my purchase because I can't return it... I can't give it away or resell (even in a garage sale) because its illegal.. how is that right? We all work hard for the money we earn, entertainers too. Torrents like anything else can be used for bad things... a car for instance... raise your hand if you own one... typically used as a mode of transportation for families in everyday life can also be used to kill, smuggle, drug trafficking, and numerous other illegal activities should they be illegal?
Right now, millions of GB/sec is being transferred via bittorrent because diablo III launches tonight. I have a good connection (Whoo home business!), so I left it open to seed to other people. Pretty sure that things like WoW patches and blizzard game launches using bittorrent is a fairly accurate point int he favour of "it's just a protocol, shut up hollywood."
I don't know if it's still the case but Blizzard used to use bittorrent to distribute patches for World of Warcraft.
I use bittorrent to download *nix distros too and I use it to trade code amongst my friends too. I can't imagine the web without it.
I don't have the greatest of internet connections, and I've had way too many downloads almost complete and then crash and burn for one reason or another(fine for small files, but when I 16 gigabytes worth of Crysis 2 from amazon, immensely frustrating). Torrenting is the most reliable downloading service I know of.
A bonus with bittorrenting: if you download a large file, such as an Ubuntu ISO, and it's corrupt, download the torrent, start the torrent, stop the torrent, copy the ISO in place of the one that your bittorrent client started, restart the torrent. Your bittorrent client will check the CRC of the file, and download the data needed to fix the bad bits.
BitTorrent is also legit for:
• Miro
• ISOHunt
• Linux
• Jamendo
• Vodo
• ClearBits
• Revision3
• LegitTorrents
• Public Domain Torrents
• YouTorrent
Personally I use bittorrent to download copies of the next generation and stand by me. Oh wasn't the Jerry O'Connell a chubby kid?

Seriously you are right. There are lot's of legitimate uses.
The other day I wanted to download and watch Game of Thrones and was scuppered at every trun trying to get it legally, it was like they were trying to encourage me to torrent it. Someone really should make a humorous infographic about this situation!
Thank you for posting this, Wil, and congratulations on being big enough to publicly change your mind about the "1 download = 1 lost sale" thing. I really respect that.
Good post with good follow up comments. Still shaking the image out of my head of you as a furry on the guild though. Lol
I use utorrent to download my favorite shows the day after they've been on tv and for the latest Linux Mint (12 now). I stay away from movies (Avengers DVD Rip is already available!) and "programs." I see nothing wrong with this.
Odds are that your Ubuntu bittorrent probably pulled data down from my server (2G to the internet) and my home PC (250M to the internet). I host all current major releases of Linux on my machines to help the distribution.

I'm grateful to Hurricane Electric and SureWest for not harassing me for having bittorrent servers.
I always take the torrent option to download a Linux iso, which I do very frequently (I'm a bit of a distro whore. I can not stand reading about a distro... I have to try it out.) Currently, I am seeding 19 different distros. Most were downloaded via bittorrent. Those that weren't I created a torrent and started seeding. Much more entertaining than most of the "product" put out by the entertainment industry. Our OP excluded, of course!
For grins, I just looked at my torrent history. All Linux distros and open source IDEs. Probably says a lot about how geeky I am. :)
Thanks for reminding me to install VirtualBox on my mac. Now I can play Alien Arena with my kid again. :)
the more i read, the more apparent it became that i'm not cool. thanks a LOT! :( lol
Yeah email can be used for warez as can http. Better block it!
The interesting thing to me is that the arguments between Hollywood and the piracy community remind me of the reason Hollywood became an entertainment industry mecca in the first place: to put some serious distance between themselves, the federal government, and the litigious, monopolistic, competition-crushing power of Edison's New York-based film empire.
I love bittorrent. Distributed shares download so much faster than FTP or HTTP downloads. And as far as the 'anti-piracy' laws.... What's the first thing that the gov't does after passing CISPA? Do they go after a pirate? Nope, they try to force Twitter to give up information on a leader in the Occupy movement. This is exactly what I expected to happen.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I find it very interesting that this bill is passed just months before the the election. Especially when this president is the biggest user of internet technology for mobilizing voters. Can you say Watergate?
Someplace else? Why do I suddenly feel like my hoodie is poor dress code for Google+? Oh well, prefer this place to 'someplace else' anyway.
It isn't just the gaming industry that has embraced torrent sharing. Sun Microsystems, prior to their takeover and subsequent destruction at the hands of Oracle, used to provide torrents for all of their software. Not all of it was free, but it was all available via both torrent and direct download. Now that Oracle has changed everything to a pay-to-play system, I don't know what they're doing. The fact that Sun, who has traditionally very jealously guarded their copyrights and trademarks, was using torrents to distribute versions of Solaris, should be very telling all by itself. Nor are they the only ones, just the best example I can think of for legitimate businesses with legitimate concerns and a need to protect their digital content, who use these services.
Oracle still offers a LOT of free software, so I wouldn't exactly call it "pay to play".
I think you need to remember another piece of the pie: bandwidth utilization. I've had countless people try to tell me that people using BT legitimately are still killing their corporate connections. Using your example, I find it hard to completely buy into that, as we're talking about that 6 mins of download time. They also act like QoS isn't a possibility?
I just used bit-torrent to download an linux livedisk yesterday.
I believe the disconnect here is that those opposed to bit torrent for all purposes cannot fathom such foreign concepts as open source and community-based programming in which the sole objective is not necessarily to charge as much as possible at every turn and from everyone that ever comes into contact with your intellectual property. When your whole existence revolves around this kind of thinking, it is particularly difficult to grasp conflicting ideas like sharing, open licenses, and freeware.
6 minutes of download time. It doesn't sound like much, and for a single user, it isn't. But there are two factors that have to be taken into account: 1) many smaller businesses are still on asymmetric connections, or pay significant amounts for upload traffic - and many people (rightfully) seed for a while after they've downloaded whatever they're after. 2) For larger businesses, QoS isn't as much of a consideration as that it's very difficult to discriminate between legitimate torrent traffic and not-so-legitimate torrents. That said, torrents are a much more scalable distribution and network usage model for all types of data.

EDIT: added comment about seeding.
Amen Brother you keep us going.
Every little bit helps! Keep plugging away at "da Man"!
I always Torrent the current *ubuntu versions. I consider it part of supporting FOSS.
There are a few video games that use torrents for downloads. Way faster way to get the client in most circumstances.

Oh, and I guess if they shut down the highways because 98% of the drivers are bank robbers, it might be more accurate. But then, those bank robbers will just use the side roads if you shut down the highway and it will greatly inconvenience the legal drivers without stopping the majority of the crime.

Oh, and we get to look forward to 20 more seconds of anti-theft wait time before watching a movie that will only target legal media users.
Wil, is that your polite way of saying we're the geekier crowd? If so, AWESOME! :) And I agree with your sentiment on the BT subject. 
Apparently as of right now, 537 people care.
Truthfully, your argument about freeways and bank-robbers isn't all that imperfect. Just as there are lots of legal uses of the interstates, there are lots of legal uses of file-sharing ... you demonstrate only one such legal use here. And, just as most attempts to prevent a bank-robber from using an interstate through modification of the interstate system is liable to seriously affect non-bank-robbing users of interstates, attempts to stop pirates from using file-sharing through modification of file-sharing will affect non-pirate users of file-sharing.

I think the analogy to bank robbers and the interstates is pretty much bang on. I wouldn't call it "perfect" ... but it's far from "imperfect" ;) ... oh, and hope you're enjoying Ubuntu ... I recently made the switch from Fedora ...
ooh rats, you got amd64 alternate. (Is that right one for iMac vbox?) So chance you seeded from me is precisely 0, as i am only seeding server, desk i386, alt i386.

Let us know how it works in Vbox ala Mac.
I want to +1 this twice. Once for the content of the blog, the other for calling us "technical minded".
The very reason it is used to transfer copyrighted stuff around too is that it is fantastically efficient. It's the only option that actually speeds up when more people download the data, every form of direct download slices the capacity out between the active downloaders. Blocking BitTorrent is just wrong - the focus should be to offer compelling official content and viewing the copying as free advertising. 
AMD distro on a Mac? I thought the were all Intels...
sadly the media will always be naysayers with file sharing and torrenting. The great battle of sony vs universal studio of copyright infringement through the VCR (anyone even still own one of those?) and then SOPA?! The saga will never end, (insert sarcasm) clearly the media industry don't need to change their perspective >.<
Finally, finally someone posts something that makes sense about torrents. Thank you Wil Wheaton, thank you. I'm so sick of hearing about how they've destroyed the music/film industry (as if piracy and bootlegging didn't exist before) with arguments based on bad information and in some cases disinformation that it's nice to be reminded that the whole purpose of torrents is to share information widely, effectively and quickly.
S. Moo
Thank you, Wil.
John E
Not sure anyone is proposing banning BitTorrent anyway?
Next, everybody must have their eyes gouged out because they can be used view pirated material....
Nobody wasnts to shutdown the bittorrent technology, since its useful to companies such as steam and blizzard. I think what people want to do is shutdown the avenue for people to download copyrighted materials. Maybe if they made copyrights less strict, people would pirate less. Consider 'The Avengers', in a year we will have blueray/dvd in the store for ~20.00 dollars. In 2-3 years it will be in a 'walmart discount bin' for 4.99'. After that it will vanish off the shelves entirely. Once something is no longer sold in stores it should be legal to download off the internet for free. Why should people have to wait 75+ years to download it legally.
Thank you, Its nice to see that not everyone in Hollywood is stuck on that same old track. There have been many occasions where musicians / artists have place there stuff out on the internet for free, and have actually increased the number of sales. Bottom line is a person who will buy your movie/music will buy it still to own and get all the cool extras.
A few years back, while I was still at home with mom and dad, I wanted to play this free-to-play game that was only downloadable through bittorrent. Our ISP had actually blocked torrenting programs, and would not allow it, even temporarily, for my completely legitimate activity. It's frustrating how torrenting programs are always automatically seen as "bad software" or "pirate tools" when they could be so much more... Any large download could benefit from seeding, and it doesn't have to be a bootlegged movie!
I agree with you. Not to mention - for you and me, until we actually had the money IN OUR HANDS; we aren't considered to have "lost" anything. So how can these industries ESTIMATE loss (imagined earnings that NEVER CAME TO PASS), and then use the legal system to EXTORT money they NEVER EARNED from the people? The law sure as Hell doesn't work that way for us does it?

I could imagine it now.

Le me in court: I estimate I would have earned 2 billion dollars had someone actually paid me. So I want you to force random people to pay me to make up for my ESTIMATED losses.

Le Judge: FUCK YEAH! Everybody pay this man! In fact - since a movie these days can be streamed for $2.99 or less - its perfectly reasonable that each of these people you imagine wronged you should now have to pay nearly 100,000x what they would have paid had they watched it online. So yeah! $250,000 per movie!

Le me: Judge ol'Boy, I like your style! Once we crush the blood from these turnips, I'll be sure to grease your palm with my ill gotten gains.

Le Judge: nods approvingly That's why we do what we do.
Even the US Gov uses torrents when america's army came out a few years back torrent was the recommended download method to get the game.
Companies could save $ on download bandwidth, by using the torrent croudsourcing method. Anything with a license key is protected anyway. And I do like the 'freeway' analogy.
Just today I was downloading the 64bit and 32bit versions of the Chakra Linux ISOs. One was being downloaded in the browser and the other was being done via bittorrent. Comcast stopped both of them and I have not been able to resume either.
+Jim Blaich Are you sure it was comcast ? If so did you call and ask why ? I have downloaded many Linux distros as well as VMware ESXi 5. I have yet to have this issue. But I downloaded a ton of stuff from the PirateBay & Demonoid this weekend and I had not one issue. I would be curious to see what the actual issue was. I know they are gong to start filtering for pirated content in July. Although I am not sure as to how they will catch someone. They need a signature that is picked up by a piece of monitoring software that will flag the connection. But they will have an issue with many false positives I believe. The only reason I believe this will take place is that I work for Cisco Systems and I support the WSA and deal with the ASA quite a bit. Both have various methods of detecting malicious content based on rules applied to either IPS, L4 Traffic monitor or various policies within the WSA and ASA. I see false positives all the time. Bit torrents are broken up into many different streams. This would make it very difficult to pick up any signature that would trigger a response from a monitoring tool.
How dare you be a voice of reason on a contentious issue!!?!?!? Surely you're contractually obligated to be against BT!??!

/sarcasm aside, hope you enjoyed the fine beers of Melbourne. Was great to see you with the MSO for Video Games Unplugged!
OMG Ubuntu were all over this one. Very good post.
Dump OS X and go Linux full time. Liked the post. I am glad to see that not all of Hollywood is drinking the Kool-aid.
saw that not only did i redistr. on facebook, but so did the official ubuntu page
using direct download of the distro was torturously slow... I can't fathom NOT using torrent for getting the latest greatest.
Intelligence, you're doing it right.
I agree that stopping all torrent traffic is too much, but I don't think the analogy of closing the freeway is appropriate. It's more like when the government pulls an establishment's liquor license for too many fights going on outside at 1 AM. Sure, you can use the establishment legally, but the government wants people who make programs like this to try and curb the piracy. Of course, the cable companies could stop being douchebags and requiring a cable subscription for online content, and piracy would drop 72%. I made up that figure, but I believe it to be accurate.

Furthermore, there are many things that have legal uses that are illegal, because far fewer people use them for good than for evil.
Actually, some society like Blizzard already uses the Bittorent protocol to update their games.
But anyway, people who think that Piracy killed the Hollywood industry really have to look at it the right way, If that's so, they should explain why they keep breaking the 1 000 000 000 Dollar profit since people started to download movies. Yep, look at it carefully, before the "Internet piracy ages" , no movie has reached it, but since then... that's another story. So..
We really need to stop blaming the medium rather than the action. It's the same (nearly) as the "guns don't kill people, people do" concept.
"Personally, I think [ISPs blocking bit torrent use] is like closing down freeways because a bank robber could use them to get away."

I agree with your comments on piracy. But I find the freeway and bank robber analogy to be not just flawed, but also more of a straw man.

Bit torrent can be used for good things. But the >majority< of the folks using it are using it to share copyrighted material. In your bank robber/freeway analogy, the bank robber is the exception -- the majority of drivers are not bank robbers.

A more apt analogy would be medical marijuana distributors. The majority of marijuana smokers are doing so recreationally. But some people (patients) really benefit from marijuana use.

Shutting down bit torrent sites because most people use them for sharing copyrighted material is like shutting down medical marijuana distributors because the majority of marijuana smokers are using it recreationally.

Whether either act is immoral is another debate (and one in which I tend to have the same opinion for both).

Our arguments against shutting down bit torrent fall upon deaf ears because those who support such a response believe the majority use should be stopped. Convincing them otherwise is as difficult as convincing an uneducated public that marijuana is an inherently bad.
Love the blog post! I too am both in entertainment and computer related industries. I own a small video store, they do still exist if you have one go visit it they are a lot more help then a vending machine! I also own a computer store offering sales and repair services. I agree with you Wil. I use BitTorrent to download software media for system restores, its extremely difficult to keep on hand a DVD of every version of every piece of factory installed software. But as long as the persons license code is still intact that code can be used with any matching media as long as the software it self hasn't been tampered with! Shutting down BT could make my repair services wait time go up by a max of a week not to mention cost forcing me to order and store whatever software I need. Also, I do have one objection to illegal downloads that in my belief is ok. Certain movies or TV shows NEVER got produced on DVD some never even made it to VHS! There are a lot of those floating around for download and even though they are copyrighted if no one made that illegal effort some if not most would be lost forever. Example, some of the Original "Doctor Who" series. The studio that stated making them eventually burned the first copies to make room new products because it wasn't cost effective to continue to store them. If there were ways to illegally copy things back then those shows would still exist. Its unfair when it comes to something that a studio refuses to produce because they cant make money and keep on a shelf until they eventually destroy it by either purposefully or accidental, Universal Studios fire that almost took out the Back To The Future lot. Media (movies, software, books, etc...) should be shared and kept. How would you feel, as an actor, if several or even just one of the shows and/or movies that you worked on just vanished to the point that no one could ever watch or read it again? Ok sorry for the long comment, lol. I'll stop here even though I could continue to go on. Have a good one everybody. And Wil keep up the good work. Love the shows and web series that you're a part of!
I also have many many legal torrents seeding for months on end. I try to download some Linux ISOs and let the ratios hit 150+ before I stop them. I am paying for bandwidth, so I may as well use it!
I know this wasn't the topic but if someone download pirated content chances are they will buy it too if they like it. If they don't like it, it is no skin off anyone's nose and no one has wasted any cash and got peeved.
I use Linux myself, only version I use is Debian, and Future plans on a second computer as a Webserver with BSDFree version of Linux!
Sorry I just love the 8-but you in a Fez that's awesome :p
After reading your blog though I completely agree.. There is a lot of fear mongering around the Internet 'every illegal download contains virus's or spyware' 'you should only buy things from sites with these logos' 'Jesus frowns on torrent files' etc... Torrenting is in fact as you say the future why rely on a server serving 100s to 1000s of people when you could rely on other people sharing with one another, the Linux releases are the best example of this but then Linux is highly community based ;)
Torrents are the better choice since you can force a recheck after the download is complete and make sure it's all there and working before you burn it to disc...
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