Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

BitTorrent: Please Stay Outta Copyright’s Way!

Slashdot had a delightful story about BitTorrent receiving a venture capital investment of about $8.75 million dollars. In the announcement, Ashwin Navin, co-founder, stated that they wanted BitTorrent to go legit and serve approved and ad-driven content. About damn time, I say.

The problem I’ve come to see with all of these P2P companies and distribution networks looking the other way when it comes to piracy is that the form of distribution is never allowed to go mainstream, and that the constant shift from Napster to Grokster to whatever is next hurts artists who want to legitimately distribute their music this way. As soon as they put it up, they’re lost in the deluge of pirated material, poisoned files, viruses and any other kind of crap that anyone can load up.

If just one of these networks (and Apple may be the first to do it with podcasting) would go legitimate and institute some kind of “white list” (only allowing approved material) that network would establish itself as a de facto trustworthy system and could overnight become a lot more interesting of a place. As it is, finding a bitTorrent file is no easy task because they’re up and down and moved here and there, mostly because they are in violation of copyright.

So far, some of the television networks have decided to take a “wait and see” approach toward whether they want to sue people for distributing their shows. Let them wait. And in fact (heresy!) take down their copyright protected content. Stop being their R&D and tell them they can get in or get out.

Having a legitimate distribution network without much content will be a much greater stride than an illegitimate network with a lot of content for a only brief period of time before a visit from the Feds.

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