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Study Finds 0.3% of BitTorrent Files Definitely Legal

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the can-we-call-that-vanishingly dept.

Piracy 321

Andorin writes "It's common knowledge that the majority of files distributed over BitTorrent violate copyright, though the exact percentage is unclear. The Internet Commerce Security Laboratory of the University of Ballarat in Australia has conducted a study and found that 89% of files examined were in fact infringing, while most of the remaining 11% were ambiguous but likely to be infringing. Ars Technica summarizes the study: 'The total sample consisted of 1,000 torrent files—a random selection from the most active seeded files on the trackers they used. Each file was manually checked to see whether it was being legally distributed. Only three cases—0.3 percent of the files—were determined to be definitely not infringing, while 890 files were confirmed to be illegal. ' The study brings with it some other interesting statistics; out of the 1,000 files, 91 were pornographic, and approximately 4% of torrents were responsible for 80% of seeders. Music, movies and TV shows constituted the three largest categories of shared materials, and among those, zero legal files were found."

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321 comments

As I said in the earlier story on porn... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011216)

Internet = porn. Folks, just keep it legal and no one at MaBell will care. Don't look at kiddies and don't steal anything. Is it hard for you slashdotters to follow each of these rules??? Come on...

Re:As I said in the earlier story on porn... (5, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011302)

Internet = porn.

I used to work for IEG (Internet Entertainment Group - WikiPedia Page [wikipedia.org] - once the largest Internet porn company in the world). We regularly seeded the Interwebs with snippets of our best porn because while the majority of people would accept our 2 minute gifts of hardcore fucking and sucking and grunting drenched in lube and sweat and go no farther, a small percentage - maybe 2 or 3 - would sign up for the full deal. VERY profitable. We never really cared much about "piracy" since most of the people interested in spending money on porn would eventually end up giving us their credit card number.

Of course, in 20% of the sign-ups, "wife" would find out, and we would have charge-backs from people that denied ever having been to our sites.

On a different note, we had one of the biggest Internet "pipe" into a single company in the world in the late 1990's and early 2000's. People never believed me when I told them what our conx was, they insisted it must be for the entire building, not just our half floor in a beautiful glass tower in downtown Seattle (a block from Pike Place Market). And, while we had a HUGE library of porn, our offices did not have naked porn stars running about, no free blow jobs.

Re:As I said in the earlier story on porn... (2, Interesting)

Nethead (1563) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011360)

Heh. I setup the network for Flying Crocodile. I had 2.5Gb/s available and 100 racks in the Westin circa 2000. We should have been peering. (For those that don't remember, Flyingcroc was known as Sextracker.com)

Re:As I said in the earlier story on porn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011414)

I remember Flying Croc. Applied for a job there when IEG tanked. - Frosty

Re:As I said in the earlier story on porn... (2, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011420)

I own a small hosting firm out of Chicago. Most of our business is made up of Fortune 500 clients and government contracts. We have a wholly owned subsidiary that only does adult entertainment (for obvious reasons). The adult content alone chews through almost 13-16Gb/s (roughly. We get transit from several providers but also peer at two exchanges). Fun stuff. It helped having worked in Van Nuys on the production side years ago. Ahh memories (horrible, horrible ones at that).

Re:As I said in the earlier story on porn... (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011622)

Considering the amount of credit card fraud, and credit card number generators, I doubt it was because the 'wife' found out. IN fact, I would be surprised if it was about 5%.

"no free blow job"
A blow job from someone who sucks dicks for a living might not be as free as you think it would be~

Re:As I said in the earlier story on porn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011696)

And, while we had a HUGE library of porn, our offices did not have naked porn stars running about, no free blow jobs.

Free lotion and tissues?

Definitively 0.3 per cent (1)

lucmove (757341) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011218)

I am definitively not impressed.

Re:Definitively 0.3 per cent (4, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011258)

Look on the bright side. For every 45 DVD rips downloaded, that's 1 Linux LiveCD that someone has acquired. Therefore, pirating movies is good for Linux adoption!

Re:Definitively 0.3 per cent (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011576)

Are you saying Linux is profiting off pirated movies? The MPAA is going to love this!

Funny how low it is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011234)

Wow. The number made me laugh. I expect it to be low, but not THAT low.

Choosing the most popular seeds... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011236)

Choosing the most popular seeds gives very skewed results. I bet the overall percentage of pornographic torrents is much higher than 9%. Similarly, we may see a large change in the number of legal files.

Re:Choosing the most popular seeds... (5, Insightful)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011294)

I was about to point out the same, most legal seeds are probably not among the most active. I'm not trying to be apologetic about the rampant piracy that Torrents are also used for, however saying that only 0.3% are legal is misleading, using the selection criteria they did, and a relatively small sampling at that.

Re:Choosing the most popular seeds... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011676)

I think that's the point. If they did a proper random sample, let's say they ended up with 50% legal, 50% illegal, it wouldn't mean much if the illegal torrents accounted for 99% of the bandwidth/users.

0 media legal (3, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011244)

I think the zero legal music / tv / movie files can be attributed to those types of files that are legal to distribute are usually just done so by http or ftp servers. They don't get put into a torrent type download system.

I'm not surprised that 4% of the files were being downloaded by 80% of the community. I bet the #1 file was being downloaded by more than 50% of the community. Individuals can, and often do, download more than one file at a time.

Re:0 media legal (5, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011308)

I completely disagree, a lot of times free media gets put into torrents and sometimes is the only way to even get it.
People that are not making money do not have the money to pay for the bandwidth to distribute to many people.

for example see Pioneer One.

Re:0 media legal (5, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011732)

for example see Pioneer One.

Pioneer One [vodo.net]

Hey thanks, never heard of it before but I'm now seeding the first episode.

And to add my own current favorite free movie to the list, check out Sita Sings the Blues [sitasingstheblues.com] - a free animated movie that Roger Ebert practically gushed over. [ebertfest.com] It's available in a bunch of different formats, I'm currently seeding the 4GB 1080p matroska edition myself. [sitasingstheblues.com]

Re:0 media legal (3, Informative)

cgenman (325138) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011458)

I'm actually a little disheartened by the lack of legal torrent distribution. It's a great medium for getting your content out there, people! If you're doing a straight HTTP server for your files, you could be saving a lot on bandwidth (and helping people to get your content faster) by setting it up as a torrent.

Re:0 media legal (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011720)

I'm actually a little disheartened by the lack of legal torrent distribution. It's a great medium for getting your content out there, people!

A while back the absolutely fantastic NPR show This American Life [thisamericanlife.org] would precede every podcast/mp3-edition with a plea for money to pay for their relatively gynormous bandwidth costs. I wrote to them suggesting they try out bittorrent and to Bram Cohen's company suggesting they use TAL to showcase the commercial benefits of bittorrent for legitimate distribution - win/win for everybody.

Alas nobody paid any attention to this joe random emailer, not even a cursory "thank you for your email."

Re:0 media legal (1)

Ahnteis (746045) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011770)

They only used certain trackers. I doubt they included (fex) Blizzard's updaters which probably provide a pretty hefty amount of traffic in-and-of themselves. But those wouldn't show up on most trackers I'm guessing since they probably use a Blizzard tracker, not a [website] tracker.

Re:0 media legal (5, Insightful)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011524)

How do they know what is or is not legal? With Viacom caught paying third parties to upload their material to YouTube and then suing Google for distributing the material it appears the copyright holders don't even know which content is legal.

Re:0 media legal (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011724)

That is the problem, their analysis failed in two regards. Firstly it was not a truly random sampling but only the 1000 most active seed, which they claimed as random by glossing over the fact there were many equally popular seeds. Their second failure was in not defining the method they used to validate what was and was not infringing content, they just made an assumption, a guess, now that's really quite unscientific and a major fail.

It would also be interesting to note of those 1000 files how many contained identical content under different names, reflecting a likely reality of children using torrent to exchange the latest fad content that produces the highest peak torrents and not the torrents that for example have the largest number of downloads/uploads over time. Also the length of the files, how many hours of content where reviewed and actually checked. Overall not very good science.

One question if a TV show is re-transmitted over the internet with it's commercials intact, is it copyright infringement, as you are only extending the range of it's broadcast.

Re:0 media legal (1)

burris (122191) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011626)

My favorite tracker [etree.org] is 100% non-infringing music. In fact, BitTorrent was created in part to satisfy the needs of hippie concert tapers/traders. It didn't take long for BitTorrent to completely kill off use of FTP by Etree users.

Boo hoo hoo. (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011248)

1986: Hey man, want a copy of this movie I got? Sure, I'll just pop it in my VCR and make a duplicate.

2010: Hey man, want a copy of this movie I got? knock, knock Aw crap, it's the police! *thud* *smack* ow! ow! ow!

RIAA -- Advocating social and technological progress since... ha ha, never you dopes!

Re:Boo hoo hoo. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011340)

Yes, because giving a copy of a movie to a friend is exactly the same as distributing the movie to tens of thousands of people over the internet.

Re:Boo hoo hoo. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011498)

Ok- NOBODY distributes to tens of thousands of people over the Internet. You might distribute parts of hundreds of movies over time but that isn't the same thing. Sharing movies has changed. It's not happening the way it used to thats for sure. It's easier to get together with friends now then it use to be too. Entertainment is also more common then it use to be. There isn't a boring moment these days with the ample entertainment available. Back in 1986 entertainment options were severely limited. You didn't have Internet, movies streaming into the home, tv late at night at least not like we do now, and lots of cheap gaming system options. Sure- you had some gaming systems- but not like today. With all the entertainment it is no wonder that there is less money going to any one entertainment industry. New industries emerged or gobbled up at least at a minimum some of that $$$. We have communications providers and hosting providers. We have a gaming industry that has expanded to the-30/40 adult crowd that once only were attracting kids/young adults. And so on.

Re:Boo hoo hoo. (1)

miggyb (1537903) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011546)

It's the principle of the thing. If they complained when we made one copy in shoddy quality for a personal friend that we had to sneakernet over to their house, there is no hope for even trying to reason with them now that we can create perfect digital copies and share them en masse. Their "happy medium" is pay full price, every time, no refunds.

Re:Boo hoo hoo. (4, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011554)

Most users don't distribute a movie to thousands, but a tiny fraction of the movie to thousands. In fact, if your ratio is under 1, you can't even say you have distributed the whole movie!

Re:Boo hoo hoo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011734)

Yeah, it's like, if you prick someone with a pin, you're not accountable for their death. If thousands of people organize to take turns to prick someone with a pin and that person dies from their injuries, clearly none of them can be charged for murder under your logic.

Re:Boo hoo hoo. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011766)

As opposed to your logic which means charging 1000 people for 1 murder, when in fact each individual only made one pin prick. Will they all get 1/1000th of a 7 year sentence (2.5 days each in prison), I wonder ?

If the RIAA used your logic, then every user should be charged with infringing 1/1000th of a copyrighted work, and the damages per person should be applied accordingly. Think that will happen ?

The ratio system is a very accurate guide ... it should be argued that anyone with a ratio over 1 is guilty of distributing 1 or more full copies ... and anyone with a ratio of only 0.1 or less (typical of the majority of leeches), have only distributed 1/10th or less of a copyrighted work (which of course you might argue under fair use).

Don't forget there are sensible countries who see downloading for personal use as legal (as it should be).

Princeton Study (5, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011252)

In a similar Princeton study [freedom-to-tinker.com] the numbers were a little different but the general point remained the same.

46% movies and shows (non-pornographic)
14% games and software
14% pornography
10% music
1% books and guides
1% images
14% could not classify

They ultimatly found approx. 1% to be legal.

The Princeton piece makes for an interesting read because they do a good job of breaking down their catagories and providing some detailed context. For instance, 53% of the porn was in English and 5% of the software was Spanish language. Just really rich data for anyone into this kind of analysis. The final paragraph on how they decided if content was illegal reads:

Our final assessment involved determining whether or not each file seemed likely to be copyright-infringing. We classified a file as likely non-infringing if it appeared to be (1) in the public domain, (2) freely available through legitimate channels, or (3) user-generated content. These were judgment calls on our part, based on the contents of the files, together with some external research. By this definition, all of the 476 movies or TV shows in the sample were found to be likely infringing. We found seven of the 148 files in the games and software category to be likely non-infringing—including two Linux distributions, free plug-in packs for games, as well as free and beta software. In the pornography category, one of the 145 files claimed to be an amateur video, and we gave it the benefit of the doubt as likely non-infringing. All of the 98 music torrents were likely infringing. Two of the fifteen files in the books/guides category seemed to be likely non-infringing.

Re:Princeton Study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011260)

IIRC there was a huge amount of sample bias. They didn't use blizzards trackers for example.

Re:Princeton Study (5, Interesting)

cappp (1822388) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011286)

I'm not sure what "blizzards trackers" are, and I'm probably missing the point entirely, but they addressed the limits of their paper:

the results apply only to the Mainline trackerless BitTorrent system that we surveyed. Other parts of the BitTorrent ecosystem might be different. Second, all files that were available were equally likely to appear in the sample -- the sample was not weighted by number of downloads, and it probably contains files that were never downloaded at all. So we can't say anything about the characteristics of BitTorrent downloads, or even of files that are downloaded via BitTorrent, only about files that are available on BitTorrent.

. Maybe someone with a little insight into how BitTorrent works could comment on the rigour of their methodoly?

Re:Princeton Study (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011338)

I'm assuming the parent is referring to Blizzard the game company who uses bittorrent to distribute updates for their games World of Warcraft and the soon to be released Starcraft 2.

Re:Princeton Study (1)

cappp (1822388) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011352)

Oh well in that case they claim to account for that.

We found seven of the 148 files in the games and software category to be likely non-infringing—including two Linux distributions, free plug-in packs for games, as well as free and beta software.

Re:Princeton Study (1)

Raptoer (984438) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011404)

No, as they went out and found the torrent files themselves, which while blizzard uses the bittorrent protocol, it doesn't use the files. A torrent file is just a list of trackers anyways, so instead the probably put that into the code or a config file somewhere.

Wrong (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011618)

No, as they went out and found the torrent files themselves, which while blizzard uses the bittorrent protocol, it doesn't use the files. A torrent file is just a list of trackers anyways, so instead the probably put that into the code or a config file somewhere.

Nope. While Blizzard uses a custom BT client, you can find a standard BitTorrent file in the clients files. This file works just fine with other BT clients.

Re:Princeton Study (1)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011456)

No, those are the typical sorts of things you find on "pirate" trackers that are, despite the nature of the tracker, intended for distribution by their creators. That is not to be confused with private trackers created by companies that solely and exclusively are used to distribute their content, legally, using bittorrent.

Re:Princeton Study (3, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011534)

The argument is that it's pretty damn hard to get a "random sample" form trackers, so these guys found the piratebay et al style trackers, and took "1000 MOST ACTIVE" torrents.

For those who don't get the reference - what do you think will be more popular: indie legal stuff, or the latest hottest hollywood movie that just came out? Now come back to the fact that most P2P "protection" companies work exactly like this - they dump a fake torrent, and plant several hundred "seeds" on it to appear legitimate - the more the better. As a result what you get is that most of the IronMan2[DVDRIP].avi with a thousand seeds while movie is still in theatres is nothing but yet another mediadefender et al honeypot where they try to fish for ips with possibility to sue.

The sample is not just flawed, it's either ignorantly or purposefully picked in the worst possible way to bias the study without being glaringly obvious to people who don't understand how bittorrent works and how communities around it usually act. I wouldn't be surprised if a major amount of torrents they found "illegal" are fake honeypots.

Re:Princeton Study (1)

cappp (1822388) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011704)

Not in the Princeton study I mentioned.

Second, all files that were available were equally likely to appear in the sample -- the sample was not weighted by number of downloads, and it probably contains files that were never downloaded at all.

Re:Princeton Study (3, Insightful)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011446)

I don't think anybody will argue that Bittorrent is not a vector for piracy. It most certainly is. I think most will even go further and concede that its primarily used for that purpose -- but these studies try to convince us that this is the *only* reason that Bittorrent exists and that is just plain silly. There are so many biases at play in this "research" that I almost don't know where to begin.

I am not familiar with the prior Princeton study so much, but this more recent one is problematic in that they used a "random" selection of the "most actively seeded files". These are actually contradictory terms. Either the sample is random, or its comprised of the most actively seeded files -- to say that its a random sampling of a non-random subset is misleading at best.

Anyone who's ever looked around on a tracker knows the real percentage is much higher. There's TONS of self-published material all over bit torrent particularly in the music and ebooks categories. While most of the ebooks might well be what most of us would consider "spam" ("Make $10,000 dollars in 7 days!"), they are almost certainly not copyrighted material in the sense that we would think of it. There may actaully be some copyright asserted, but I doubt any of these have been properly submitted to the library of congress and their authors quite clearly intend for you to distribute them.

Speaking of files you are intended to distribute, you also see quite a few game patches, service packs and other large files hosted on bittorrent. For instance, there's probably 100 torrents on the Pirate Bay right now that are just iPhone firmwares. While these may be technically still copyrighted material, they are *intended* for distribution. Simply being under copyright does not mean a file is not meant to be shared. In fact, some companies distribute their patches via bittorrent directly, such as Blizzard, but the trackers they use are almost certainly not included in this study. In fact, there are trackers that deal exclusively in legal-to-distribute content and they are clearly excluded from these sorts of studies. This further increases the bias in the results.

Moreover the are the more murkier issues of international laws. What is copyrighted in the United States can easily be public domain somewhere else. The internet does not know geographic boundaries, so establishing the legality of a file is almost never going to be a black or white issue.

Re:Princeton Study (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011578)

One thing is if they picked the top 1000 torrent files there are probably 10 or more copies of whatever the newest movies at the time of the study. So out of a thousand I would figure 10% of the thousand torrents were probably just differant cam releases of 7-8 movies. I didn't RTFA so correct me if they accounted for that.

Re:Princeton Study (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011760)

I don't think anybody will argue that Bittorrent is not a vector for piracy.

Aw, horseshit. That's exactly what Slashdot has been arguing for years - "it's a method of sharing files that just happens to also be used for illegitimate purposes by some" is how the argument has long been phrased. Just look at the highly rated comments in the discussion, like yours, each one arguing how it's just not possible that they study is accurate. It must be spin. Etc... Etc...
 

While most of the ebooks might well be what most of us would consider "spam" ("Make $10,000 dollars in 7 days!"), they are almost certainly not copyrighted material in the sense that we would think of it. There may actaully be some copyright asserted, but I doubt any of these have been properly submitted to the library of congress

You're a couple of decades behind on copyright law - copyright attaches at the moment of creation, submission to the Library of Congress isn't required.

Re:Princeton Study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011764)

I am not familiar with the prior Princeton study so much, but this more recent one is problematic in that they used a "random" selection of the "most actively seeded files". These are actually contradictory terms. Either the sample is random, or its comprised of the most actively seeded files -- to say that its a random sampling of a non-random subset is misleading at best.

I generally agree with your post, but on this point you are clearly wrong. Your understanding of the word random, seems to be a little of. Random with a bias, is still random. Random from a non-random subset is still random.

It may very well be a good way of determing the primary use of bittorrent, to use the most active torrents. If 99 percent of the torrents are legit, but there is no activity on those torrents, they could have not existed aswell.

I would not have chosen 100 percent from the most active. I would say that something like 80 percent from the most active and 20 percent from the least active.

Biases survey exaggerating illegal files. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011262)

That seems like exactly the wrong way to do a survey. Way to go.

They needed a study for this? (2, Insightful)

epp_b (944299) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011274)

I find 100% of money spent on this study definitely wasted.

What about the rest of the internet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011282)

How many images on web pages are truly "legal"? How many files?

IT'S A FUCKING LIE !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011288)

No way 0.3 % is legal. None of it is.

muuuuuhahahahahahaha

wow. talk about skew. (5, Insightful)

Triv (181010) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011296)

"The total sample consisted of 1,000 torrent files--a random selection from the most active seeded files on the trackers they used."

Most Active. Charming. It's almost like saying, "of the 1,000 most illegal torrents, almost 1,000 of them are illegal." I want to know about the millions of other files on BT, not the ones most likely to be illegal. Also: 1,000 randomly selected out of how many of the most active torrents?

Bad study is bad, or at least bad press release is bad, and I can smell the spin from 5,000 miles away.

Re:wow. talk about skew. (5, Funny)

cloricus (691063) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011390)

I applied their study methodology to sex in a status update.

If you only look for sex statistics in brothels you'll only find prostitutes and from that information you can be sure that 99.7% of all human sex is paid for.

As you can see it is sound and the results are rock solid!

Re:wow. talk about skew. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011500)

Sorry to sound off-topic but your study is absolutely right. Actually it is misleading by a bit. 100% of Human sex is paid for, somehow. The only thing is that prostitutes are less expensive than wives and girlfriends.

Re:wow. talk about skew. (2, Insightful)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011582)

You never met the loose girl at the trucker bar have you.... well I forgot to include the cost of the antibiotics for when you catch the clap. Carry on.

Re:wow. talk about skew. (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011418)

How would you do the study differently? Tracking down an unbiased sample of all torrents would be a nightmare, and even then, a sensible study would weight based on activity. We are, after all, looking for data on how bittorrent is actually used, so their methodology isn't the worst way they could have gone about it.

Re:wow. talk about skew. (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011532)

I agree, but only if we restrict the results of the study to talking about something like "popular bittorrent trackers" rather than "bittorrent" full stop. If you're talking about bittorrent as a technology, you really have to include all the various things distributed from 100%-legal-files-only trackers (which I doubt they included in their study), like this one [debian.org] .

Re:... and tiny sample sizes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011754)

I do not trust any conclusion drawn from single digit population sizes. Multiply the sample size by 10 and maybe I'll start to listen.

There's a huge difference in 3/1,000 vs. 30/10,000.

Those statistics look familiar. (3, Interesting)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011300)

infringing torrents :: ambiguous :: legal

porn :: probably porn :: normal content

spam :: probably spam :: real emails

blog posts :: lazily disguised reposts :: real news

fake google results :: crappy sites :: what you were actually searching for

And so forth...within a small margin, this appears to be the standard ratio of the internet.

University of Ballarat (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011310)

Just so you know, University of Ballarat of a corporate whore. I went there for a while before I realised what a fucking joke it was. Not saying that this means the results are bullshit but it's certainly food for thought.

VODO (1)

ZeroNullVoid (886675) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011328)

How Ironic that the day this post shows up on /. VODO had an release up which is a movie and is 100% legal and very highly transferred over torrents.

The.Yes.Men.Fix.The.World.P2P.Edition.2010.XviD-VODO & The.Yes.Men.Fix.The.World.P2P.Edition.2010.HQ.x264-VODO

This study is flawed and what trackers did they use or how did they truly pick the randomization?

I mean if they pick the 1000 random torrents from a piracy site, then my guess is their results would this way, but if they select other trackers/locations/etc they would likely find that 100% of the traffic is legal and proper.

Also remember that statistics just show how biased the statistician is when they interpret the results and decide how to present them.

Fuck you Slashdot! I never see my comments. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011348)

Go to hell, assholes, for making me waste my time commenting. Also I hope the researchers get sued for the copyright infringement they had to do to research this crap. If they are allowed to get away with it, they are privileged, not having to follow the same rules as the rest of society. Fuck researchers and fuck you!

Anonymous Coward (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011356)

Bit Torrent only need to expressly indicate where and to what content comes and goes to. That opens the spigot - you want, you can have, but where and to is public. Legal stuff doesn't get looked at - other stuff - well that falls under the light of not legal.

After that the numbers change - cockroaches tend to scatter under the light.

There are things that have been forgotten that need to be cracked down on - it's not about what I can get that is OK, but that that is free should be pushed.

Those that don't understand are just leeches - and leeches need a bit of chlorine in the pond. That lets those that should be thrive.

Word.

!random (2, Interesting)

dreamer.redeemer (1600257) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011358)

The summary states:

The total sample consisted of 1,000 torrent files—a random selection from the most active seeded files on the trackers they used.

Clearly then the sample isn't a random subset of 'all torrents' but instead of 'popular torrents on certain trackers.' This does not justify the proposition in the title "Study Finds 0.3% of BitTorrent Files Definitely Legal."

That aside, fat chance I'm going to trust The Internet Commerce Security Laboratory to keep their science unbiased in this regard. Seriously, for whom would a sample size of 1,000 torrents seem even close to enough?

Re:!random (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011656)

Seriously, for whom would a sample size of 1,000 torrents seem even close to enough?

Statisticians?

You do not need a huge sample size to extract statistically significant results. Of course their sampling methodology could lead to skewed results due to a selection bias, and that's always worth considering... but a sample size of 1000 is not too small to derive statistically significant results from, assuming they used a reasonably "random" sampling methodology.

I've got a question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011366)

For those that say most of the bit torrents are legal I have to ask what are all these legal files that people are trading? I'm honestly curious not being a torrent user. I personally know of a few companies that distribute licensed software that way and blogs. Also there's open source software. Considering the massive amount of traffic what are people sharing? I know what this study says but I have heard claims before the bulk of the traffic is legal. If so what is the legal traffic? Most people use things like Youtube and Flicker for photos and video so what are all the legal torrent files?

Re:I've got a question (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011816)

I've seen a lot of Islamic materials (The Koran, etc.) out there that, AFAIK, is out of copyright and has thousands of seeders.

tracker (1)

ouachiski (835136) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011368)

'The total sample consisted of 1,000 torrent files—a random selection from the most active seeded files on the trackers they used

this being the bit I picked out. this can vary greatly tracker to tracker.

Wishing Steam would just roll with it. (0, Offtopic)

solios (53048) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011370)

Seriously. Anyone else try to download Alien Swarm on Monday?

Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Let the "cloud" be an opt-in, "use THIS much of my up/down" defined thing so that anyone either downloading a game or willing to serve as a content node for a game is then using their bandwidth to - effectively - make the "It's FREE AND YOU CAN GET IT NOW!" statement from Valve actually MEAN "get it now" and not "you can watch Steam poop itself every time you try for it until you magically without any explanation get a slot!"

In certain circumstances, BT is potentially a Damned Handy thing for content distribution.

(In other circumstances, it's a damned aggravating thing that makes lawyers salivate, but that's not what I'm talking about here)

Self-fulfilling prophesy (5, Insightful)

Dwonis (52652) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011384)

Okay, I used to use BitTorrent for downloading Linux and a bunch of other things, rather than downloading directly from mirrors. Do you know why I don't know? Because Bell Canada throttles BitTorrent traffic, but not plain HTTP and FTP traffic.

Those bastards broke legitimate uses of BitTorrent, and now they complain that only pirates use it.

Re:Self-fulfilling prophesy (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011452)

Bit Torrent for pirate movies and tv shows etc., is a complete waste of time anyway. There are FAR better ways to get that kind of stuff.

Re:Self-fulfilling prophesy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011480)

Bit Torrent for pirate movies and tv shows etc., is a complete waste of time anyway. There are FAR better ways to get that kind of stuff.

for TV shows there in NO better way (a long as you are using RSS+bittorrent)

Legal images verus legal distribution (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011388)

I don't think this study is about legal files; I think it's about files that are legal to distrbute freely. There's a big difference; illegal files would be ones illegal to possess, period. Unless copyright law has changed, it covers distribution, not possession. Pedantic point, maybe, but illegal files really does refer to something, but not merely copyrighted works whose authors don't allow free distribution.

aHA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011398)

Ok, sure, it's a lousy .3%, even so, it's proof that the legitimate uses for torrent type file sharing is NOT ZERO. If you want to prosecute someone for sharing illegal content, you MUST now prove the illegality of that content, and not just assume it to be so "because it's a torrent file". Three tenths of a percent ain't much, but it still constitutes REASONABLE DOUBT, albeit, barely.

Selection bias (4, Interesting)

munky99999 (781012) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011426)

0.3% chance this report isnt selection bias. Only 1000 torrents? Only 23 trackers? Why not 25? Was those extra 2 going to destroy your stats? How about 1 million torrents, taken from a specific date in time; over as many trackers you can find. http://wiki.vuze.com/w/Legal_torrent_sites [vuze.com] Omg I did 250,000 torrents and only went to the above link for 29 trackers. New article: Study analyses 29 trackers, more then previously, finds 100% torrents legal.

I've said it before (1)

jblz (1863100) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011434)

If anybody fscks with my ability to download my linux distros at 1.5MB-2.0MB per second, i will seriously be pissed. BitTorrent is the only method by which i can reliably attain these speeds. I'm willing to forgo the BitTorrent protocol in principle, but only in favor of an even better technology

Non-representative sample (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011466)

a random selection from the most active seeded files on the trackers they used. Each file was manually checked to see whether it was being legally distributed.

Note "from the most active seeded files"

In other words, this doesn't really mean that only "0.3% of BitTorrent Files" are definitely legal.. far more might be legal but not among the top active torrents.

That could mean there are plenty of legal torrents, but they don't make the list of top active ones, because (perhaps) illegal ones are more popular for an audience that is larger.

Doesn't negate that there are plenty of legal torrents, Linux ISOs, etc, and BitTorrent is commonly used as a legal distribution mechanism. But they are looking at public free-for-all trackers which are already potentially biased towards containing spam and other crap that you would expect people on any pre-bittorrent P2P system to be offering.

In fact, their study only applies to the most active torrent files.

I am not surprised that if you consider only the most active seeded files, that a lot of them are illegal, especially in regards to music files.

But if you use a methodology that doesn't artifically limit your sample to the most active torrent files as indicated by TPB or isoHunt, something completely different may be found.

IOW: researchers, take yer study and shove it until you can uh stop using a biased sampling method like "most active".

This is like taking a survey of FTP servers, and only looking at ones that report having the most users connecting, and allow anyone to upload any file, and others to immediately download it.

To claim 0.3% of files on FTP are definitely legal.

What do I buy when I buy a record? (0, Offtopic)

lobf (1790198) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011496)

What do I buy when I buy a record?

Do I buy the right to listen to that song? Let's say I bought the Spice Girls record back in 1997, and I suddenly want to listen to it. Unfortunately it's old, and horribly scratched up. Do I need to go out to a store and buy a new copy? Is it really immoral to pretend i made a copy of it and download it from bittorrent? Thus, is that copy of Spice Girls really illegal in my case?

Re:What do I buy when I buy a record? (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011596)

Actually its perfectly legal for you to download a copy but if you distribute any of it (which you do while you download with bittorrent) its illegal.

Re:What do I buy when I buy a record? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011624)

You buy the right to listen to that song, so long as you are the demonstrable owner of that right. It's always been this way.

If you destroyed, then yes, like anything else, you have to pay to replace it, just as with a ticket to a show or fare on a train. Proof of original purchase is not proof that you haven't sold it and are trying to scam.

If stolen, you deal with it like any other stolen property/assets. That means if it's not insured and the thief is not found, you're paying to replace it like anything else.

If lost, you're paying to replace it unless part of what you paid was for a replacement service. Many merchants, like Ticketmaster and oftentimes digital distributors, offer the ability to replace unique goods by disabling the lost/stolen item and re-issuing (one silver lining of DRM).

If it's damaged, you might have to pay to replace it. It's your responsibility to take care of the things you own (just imagine trying to cash in an illegible and shredded stock certificate!). You may be able to send the damaged unit back for a replacement for a nominal fee. Many CD/DVD publishers do this as a value-added service. If you failed to safeguard your purchases, it's no one's fault but your own.

Is it really immoral to pretend i made a copy of it and download it from bittorrent?

Of course it is. Lies and deception are immoral. They may be justified in some circumstances, but that doesn't change their basic nature.

It's just a form of rationalization to say "I did something wrong but it's not really wrong because someone else wronged me first." Two wrongs don't make a right.

Is it justified for you to participate in an unlawful distribution in order to remedy your carelessness? Perhaps.

Thus, is that copy of Spice Girls really illegal in my case?

Absolutely.

You participated in an unauthorized distribution and have no demonstrated ownership of the applicable legal rights. If it were litigated in a vacuum, you'd lose on the merits.

What you're asking is simply whether the ends justify the means, and 99.9% of the time, breaking the law as self help is still just breaking the law.

Chances are the injury is so marginal as to not be worth anyone's time, like when the traffic court decides to dismiss a citation because it's not worth the effort. It's a cost/benefit analysis.

You're asking three discrete questions: Is it moral? Is it legal? Will I be punished?

In your example, the answers are no, no, and probably not.

Are their methods accurate? (1)

NimbleSquirrel (587564) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011544)

Unfortunately, I cannot find a link to the actual study, so it is impossible to tell if their methods really are accurate. However, I do believe that only 1000 of the most highly seeded files is not an accurate representation of all BitTorrent traffic. In fact that very requirement that they be the highest seeded sets up a bias within this study. A study of 100,000 randomly selected files from as many trackers as they can find would yeild far more acurate results.
Who knows? Maybe this is what they did originally and their results were not as cut and dried as their corporate backers wanted. I note that the Internet Commerce Security Lab at the University of Ballarat doesn't detail their "collaborative partnerships within industry" on the website.

cacaoweb is the next bittorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011552)

i think bittorrent has been surpassed by direct streaming by now, and direct streaming is being surpassed by cacaoweb which is basically the next generation p2p software. bittorrent is a dinosaur and has been extinct a long time ago now

"Copyrighted" is not "Infringing," dammit. (5, Insightful)

chub_mackerel (911522) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011566)

"Copyrighted" refers to the work. "Infringing" refers to the *use* of the work. The first does not imply the second.

The aricle says they checked "...whether the file was confirmed to be copyrighted..." And then apparently made the jump to assuming that anything copyrighted must be illegal, sliding immediately into called them "infringing files."

Of course by that metric all the Linux distros are illegal as well since they too are "copyrighted." As is any blog post, web page, or photo taken in the last, say, 70 years. As is anything that is shared properly according to the terms of any license. Now the study may have actually looked at the license terms in place for each work, but this definitely not what the article *said*.

Not to mention that regardless of any express license terms, sharing that qualifies as fair use is also NOT AN INFRINGMENT and is LEGAL and should not be described as illegal or as "infringing files."

Any indication whether these types of things (terms of the licenses according to each item, whether the sharing events qualified as fair use) were taken into account? If not, then I'd counter by noting that 100% of the material on Warner Bros' home page is copyrighted too. Should I say it's being shared "illegally"? Of course not, but my whole point is that if you play with semantics loosely enough, you'll find that probably the vast majority of the material on the Net as a whole is "illegal" and "copyrighted."

*grumble*

Re:"Copyrighted" is not "Infringing," dammit. (4, Insightful)

LoneHighway (1625681) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011602)

Agreed. There are a lot of audio books on torrent that are copyrighted, but out of print. What are you infringing if you can't buy the file at any price?

Re:"Copyrighted" is not "Infringing," dammit. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33011778)

What are you infringing if you can't buy the file at any price?

You're infringing on the right of the owner to distribute it as they please within the legal rights to the work.

Sorry if this bothers you but if a band wants to keep their album as a single work instead of being distributed piecemeal that is their right. If an artist decides they want to let their work be protected but not distributed that also is their right.

don't like the law? Change it. Don't make up your own set of rules as you go and act like it's legal. The law and commonsense don't always coincide. That's the breaks. Or are you ready to deny an artist the right to see how their work is distributed? Sure, you can make the lame argument that a work out of print should be free but that's not the law. It might sound illogical but that doesn't give you the right. If logic played into this at all squatters all over the world should have free run of properties abandoned by their neglagent owners. See how that stands up in court if you have the balls.

they did *some* license checking (1)

chub_mackerel (911522) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011762)

Alright -- to respond to myself --it does look like the researchers did some sort of manual license checking for each commonly-shared work, but the article is pretty silent on what, exactly, that entailed. I'm virtually certain it didn't involve checking for fair use possibilities.

I'm curious as to how the same logic would have described the simple use of a VCR prior to the Sony case: "100% of material recorded on VCRs is copyrighted and definitely illegal." All copyrighted, yes, but much of the recording activity was later found to be "time-shifting": a fair use, and therefore legal and not an infringement.

What I'd really like to see therefore is a study where the researchers sample of the downloaders/sharers involved to see whether they make fair-use-sounding arguments or not. (Couldn't buy it another way, replacing my lost or worn-out copy, sampling music I wouldn't have bought otherwise, etc.) Sure some of this might not pass muster as fair use if eventually tested, but it makes a difference, particularly since, as the article notes, P2P users actually buy more media per capital than non-P2P users.

Such a study wouldn't break down content by "type of content" but by "type of use". Not doing so is a dead giveaway that the study isn't designed to seriously address the fair use issues at all.

Re:"Copyrighted" is not "Infringing," dammit. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011772)

Not to mention that regardless of any express license terms, sharing that qualifies as fair use is also NOT AN INFRINGMENT and is LEGAL and should not be described as illegal or as "infringing files."

For that very limited subset of files which will qualify as "fair use", sure. But outside of files licensed to be freely shared or in the public domain, that subset is so small as to be non-existent.
 

my whole point is that if you play with semantics loosely enough, you'll find that probably the vast majority of the material on the Net as a whole is "illegal" and "copyrighted."

Of course, you're playing the same game - and pretending you're the one playing it straight.

The trouble with "peer to peer" (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011678)

The trouble with the "peer to peer" systems today is that they're horrendously inefficient ways of transmitting the same data around. It's gotten better, but still, the same data passes back and forth across intercontinental undersea cables multiple times.

Many years ago, when I was going to school in Cleveland, I stood on an overpass and watched two coal trains passing each other, in opposite directions. And I thought that some day, computers would be smart enough to get the owners of that coal in touch with each other so they could cut a deal and avoid the wasted transportation. And indeed, that happened.

But now we have the same huge data files passing each other, in opposite directions. This is lame. Especially since USENET got it right. If the "peer to peer" systems weren't so focused on piracy, they could work much better.

"Copyrighted"? (1)

X.25 (255792) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011810)

I can download Total Commander from author's site.

I can download Total Commander (with added files, which do not modify original Total Commander files) from torrent sites as well.

If I download it from torrent site, will this study consider it as a piracy?

This study is flawed beyond comprehension.

What about VHS and audio tapes ? (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 2 years ago | (#33011858)

Is it also true that only 0.3% of VHS tapes contain legal content when it was at its peak ?

And i heard a lot of those old audio tapes(cassete recorders) had content that was just copied from other tapes (tape-to-tape they called it), people used to take them to concerts and release "bootleg" recordings.

How the industry has continued to survive with such blazen disrespect for the laws surrounding th music(ians) they love is beyond me.

Perhaps it would appropriate to start an appeal so we can all donate money to these needy organisations (RIAA/MPAA) that look after the interests of musicians.

Oh yea, im being sarcastic

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