When people think of “BitTorrent” most of them think of the peer-to-peer file sharing program that they use to pirate movies, games, music, and software. Not very many of them know that “BitTorrent” is also the name of the company that made the program and the name of the protocol that the program uses.
Since the name “BitTorrent” has become synonymous with piracy, the San Francisco-based company is universally hated in the entertainment industry. However, the company just released a new torrent format, called BitTorrent Bundle, in an attempt to legitimize the format. Matt Mason, the company’s vice-president of marketing, said that their goal is to turn their file-sharing software into a necessary part of the entertainment industry instead of just the favorite program of internet pirates.
“Many people don’t realize that we have over two million pieces of licensed and legal content available in our ecosystem,” Mason said. “It is true that our technology is exploited as part of a stack of technologies used for piracy. But you’ll find that as a standalone tool we are not a very good piracy tool. We don’t rip CDs or capture movies on camcorders. We don’t host content that infringes on copyright; we don’t index it, point to it or promote it in any way. All of those things happen outside of BitTorrent.”
What is BitTorrent Bundle though, what does it do? Described by the company as an evolution of the torrent file concept, users download the “Bundle” and are granted access to free content from the creator of the Bundle. Not only does the Bundle give users free content, it then acts as a gateway for them to access premium content. How the gateway is opened is determined by the creator of the content. It can be anything from sharing your email to paying a small fee. This is a great way for the creators to control how their content is distributed.
Despite their efforts to repair their bad reputation, the people in Hollywood still view BitTorrent in the same negative light as Napster and The Pirate Bay. When the first seven minutes of the indie film, Arthur Newman, were released via BitTorrent, several Hollywood studios became furious. Going so far as to say Cinedigm, the studio that made the movie, was making “a deal with the devil”.
While it’s clear that many in Hollywood thought that the partnership between BitTorrent and Cinedigm was a mistake, the numbers say otherwise. Jill Calcaterra, the chief marketing officer at Cinedigm, said that the preview received hundreds of thousands of downloads within the first twenty-four hours and drew a similar number of visitors to marketing channels for the movie. Traffic to the website and overall discussion of the movie also increased after the preview was released on BitTorrent.
This is the start of a new beginning for BitTorrent. It’s hoped that once executives begin looking at the numbers they’ll start to see the amount of potential BitTorrent has. If things continue to go well for them, they may soon become a major part of the entertainment industry.
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