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Major Flaws Found In Recent BitTorrent Study

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the seeding-facts dept.

Piracy 167

Caledfwlch writes with a followup to news we discussed a couple days ago about a study that found only 0.3% of torrents to be legal. (A further 11% was described as "ambiguous.") TorrentFreak looked more deeply into the study and found a number of flaws, suggesting that the researchers' data may have been pulled from a bogus tracker. Quoting: "Here's where the researchers make total fools out of themselves. In their answer to the question they refer to a table of the top 10 most seeded torrents. ... the most seeded file was uploaded nearly two years ago (The Incredible Hulk) and has a massive 1,112,628 seeders. The torrent in 10th place is not doing bad either with 277,043 seeds. All false data. We're not sure where these numbers originate from but the best seeded torrent at the moment only has 13,739 seeders; that's 1% of what the study reports. Also, the fact that the release is nearly two years old should have sounded some alarm bells. It appears that the researchers have pulled data from a bogus tracker, and it wouldn't be a big surprise if all the torrents in their top 10 are actually fake." They also take a cursory look at isoHunt, finding that 1.5% of torrent files come from Jamendo alone, "a site that publishes only Creative Commons licensed music."

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Honestly... (5, Insightful)

Theoboley (1226542) | about 4 years ago | (#33035594)

Does this really surprise anyone?

Re:Honestly... (5, Insightful)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33035638)

It probably surprises the people that thought they could get away with presenting bogus data. ;)

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036790)

Not really.

Re:Honestly... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33037232)

Of course they can get away with presenting the bogus data: the IPCC^W RIAA will clear them of all wrongdoing after an "investigation". The science^W piracy is settled!

Re:Honestly... (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33035778)

Problem is, most people who visit this site already know what this article is stating. They knew the study was bogus from the start because they are more in tune with torrents than the people doing the study. The issue arises when the "Recent Study" slamming torrents makes the 6:00 news and it makes a nice segway into how to combat piracy - however this article, showing that the data was incorrect and that they are either embellishing or straight up lieing, will get no mention on mainstream media whatsoever. The people who need to see this news won't see it, and the people who see this news already know. More tragic than ironic.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33035876)

lying, god damn it

Re:Honestly... (2, Funny)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33035980)

That's God damn it, God damn it! :p

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036084)

you mean dammit?

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036784)

That's God damn it, God damn it! :p

What if he wanted to leave his options open as to which god?

Re:Honestly... (1)

darguskelen (1081705) | about 4 years ago | (#33037720)

That would make it god(s) damn it, I think. Remember the polytheists out there! :)

Re:Honestly... (3, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | about 4 years ago | (#33036334)

And you didn't catch segue?

Re:Honestly... (-1, Offtopic)

sjames (1099) | about 4 years ago | (#33036276)

Recent torrent study linked to Global Warming fraud, news at 6:00.

The link, of course, is that both have some serious irregularities in the data.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036534)

Recent torrent study linked with retards trying their best to discredit real data, like Global Warning, evolution (the process), and science in general (see creationists). News at 6:00.

Link, of course, is both select data to prove their own pre-conceived results.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036846)

How is this different than anything else in modern news? They will always have an agenda to push - the one that keeps them and their friends in the most power.

Re:Honestly... (1)

Radtoo (1646729) | about 4 years ago | (#33037024)

Don't worry, people are (I think, without proof) far less likely to care about these false studies or the rebuttals than Bittorrent or other file sharing services.

Re:Honestly... (0, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 4 years ago | (#33035948)

The only thing that surprises me is that there are people who think that it makes any difference whether it's 99.7% or only 98% (or whatever) of torrents that are illegal. We all know that vast majority of them are illegal so why pretend otherwise?

Re:Honestly... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036316)

Because the disgusting cumguzzler you call your mother has been eating grapes and yoghurt out of my ass with a spoon, that's why.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036400)

Your spelling of "yoghurt" seems appropriate in this instance.

Yog Hurt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33037574)

Yog hurt by making fun of Yog pain.
Yog sad.
Yog hurt still.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036318)

You might convince me that most people are downloading illegal torrents but to claim that most torrents are illegal defies logic. There are many more free files out there being distributed via other channels. Why would BitTorrent be any different?

Re:Honestly... (5, Informative)

Peach Rings (1782482) | about 4 years ago | (#33036396)

The report gave the percentage of legal torrents as so low that some CC music site alone exceeds their entire sum of legal torrents on the entire internet. That doesn't mean that really only 98% of torrents are illegal, that means that their dataset is ludicrously inaccurate and the entire study is completely invalidated.

Who modded this interesting?

Re:Honestly... (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 4 years ago | (#33036822)

From TFA (by the wonderfully unbiased outfit called TorrentFreak):

We're not trying to argue that the majority of the torrents are legit...

Are you? My whole point was, who cares about this study (or about far more ludicrous claim that 80% of torrents are legal by one of the Pirate Bay founders). The reality is that the vast majority of torrents are illegal. Are you disputing that?

Re:Honestly... (3, Interesting)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about 4 years ago | (#33037026)

Haha, Man, how do you measure whether a Torrent is "Legal" anyway? The torrent itself carries no copyrighted data period. The transfer between peers is illegal. It's not illegal to make a hash of copyrighted data, It's not Illegal in many countries to torrent either.

Re:Honestly... (0)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 4 years ago | (#33037450)

Thanks. People like you are setting new standards for pointless pedantry, even for slashdot. Please continue your good work.

Re:Honestly... (3, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 4 years ago | (#33037140)

For every torrent with a 1,000 seeds, there are 10 fake ones with 10,000 seeds each. Since fakes don't contain copyrighted information, they are not illegal. So for every 1,000 illegal seeds, there are 100,000 legal ones. Therefore less than 1% of torrent seeds is illegal. ;)

Re:Honestly... (2, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | about 4 years ago | (#33036570)

The thing that surprises me is that - given the facts which your already pointed out - someone would actually bother to fake the data. I always figured that 90%+ of torrents were illegal, so why would anyone conduct a fraudulent study and run the risk of being exposed, just so they could get a few extra percentage points? It makes me question my basic premise - maybe there ARE more legitimate torrents than I'm aware of.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33038244)

I think most people do agree that the fraction is a majority. What happened is that someone wants to buy some new laws. But a senator can't just cum in a RIAA-sponsored hooker's mouth and snort some MPAA cocaine, and then tell the public, "I had a great time so I voted Yea on the bill." They have to have some other kind of excuse. Things need to be rationalized, as corrupt as everyone knows things are. If we stop telling ourselves the lies, some people might decide to go ahead and be honest. That would be a disaster. It's better to keep up appearances.

Thus, the survey, to get a number. Who cares about the number? They do! Maybe if someone did a realistic survey they'd find out it's 88.5% or 99.2% or 77.0% or whatever, but these guys just made up an answer without even trying hard to think about whether or not it was believable.

That kind of fuckup doesn't count as maintaining appearances. You can invade Iraq looking for WMDs but you can't invade Holland on the the same pretense, or invade Iraq looking for Martians. You don't have to be totally believable, but it has to at least seem vaguely plausible. These guys didn't do that. Their number was obvious bullshit to anyone who spent a few minutes on it.

Was it just laziness, or did they actually survey it, find out it was 88%, and then shudder with horror that blocking the protocol that Blizzard uses won't be politically viable?

Re:Honestly... (3, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 4 years ago | (#33036662)

Does this really surprise anyone?

No, because most tech people instinctually know that filesharing is ethically right, and the rest don't care for facts either way.

Re:Honestly... (3, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 4 years ago | (#33037020)

If the top 10 files were fake, they were not illegal. So by far most of the popular torrents are legal?

Re:Honestly... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33037956)

No surprise here, Theoboley

In fact for the last few years I've questioned that glaring absess on the face of science " the study".
( anon cow costume on for karma protection from the guilty, misled, clueless and those incapable of unbiased view due to vocation, religion or dementia)
Let's face it, a study is different than full blown research. Oddly enough though an article on a "study" will send the public off in dizzying new directions, convinced that physics has new rules, Bioscience has the cure for "fill in the blank", the sky is falling, the oceans are rising, red is better than blue and they all need more vitamin enriched, extra fiber, diet soda.
            Studies are done for specific reasons:
1.Industry (who can afford research) need some actual numbers to proceed throwing research dollars around.(dipping in the toe to test the waters)

2. Special interests (who can also afford research but will stop with a study if it gets their goal , usually PR, accomplished. Could be industry, politics, social causes or religions) When you have money you can pay for a study to get actual data or pay for a study that finds what you want it to find in order to accomplish your ends.

3. Education (Believe it or not colleges have an interest in running some numbers for both the benefit of the institution and the students) Hey someones gotta get those zombies from the lecture into laboratories and research. Besides funding from Greenpeace, the DNC, the military,
the Beef Council, Shell Oil and others sure are making my dept. lush. I keep bringin them in and tenure smenure, I will never have to work again.

Now I am not here to name names, it happens, you know it, I know it, corruption happens.The very thing never taken into account when backing a politician with a vote, supporting the local police or reading a STUDY.
I also won't say all studies are just bogus science for the purpose of giving newsclowns something to spin and extend their vocation a bit longer.
Studies also have legitimate uses, duh, because sometimes you want to dip your toe in or just find a sample of data for use. I would bet that most studies are legitimate. It's the ones that aren't to look out for. Which ones are they? Who knows? I would bet though that a majority of them are being shoved at an unsuspecting public to educate and guide them for whatever purpose they facilitate. I guess that means that the studies you readily see all around you are probably just horseshit like the general news spun at the public for the purpose it facilitates.

If you are truly upset and not amused by the time you read this, I would say you are probably part of the problem.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33038264)

Someone Mod this up Please.

in short... (1)

eexaa (1252378) | about 4 years ago | (#33035608)

...good we know who did (paid) the study.

Lets simply go seeding instead of this discussion.

Methodology is highly sophisticated and involves.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33035972)

enormous computing power to get info:

1) go to - search for "most seeded torrents"

2) look at first link: and read Inedible Hulk, Batsman 4, Free's Willy ... 1,112,628, 1,122,421, 999,991

3) Copy and paste text into PowerPoint slide, edit a little, spell check, submit

4) Profit: Collect huge check for report as industry screams: WE HAVE PROOF POSITIVE!!!

Move along (1, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#33035642)

Nothing to see here.

The best-seeded torrents... (5, Interesting)

Tenek (738297) | about 4 years ago | (#33035700)

Every few months when a WoW patch comes out and millions of computers torrent a few hundred MB. Hulk's got nothing on Night Elves.

Re:The best-seeded torrents... (5, Funny)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33035736)

The patch that removes clothing completely from that game will bring the entire Internet to a standstill.

Re:The best-seeded torrents... (1)

eexaa (1252378) | about 4 years ago | (#33035952)

Like from blood elf paladins?

Please no.

Re:The best-seeded torrents... (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33036104)

I'm fearing naked Tauren and Draenei. But honestly, there are a great many humans that I would fear seeing naked, too. :p

Re:The best-seeded torrents... (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | about 4 years ago | (#33037058)

So what will happen, when the patch comes out that allows characters to engage in X-rated activity?

Re:The best-seeded torrents... (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33037434)

That one's due on 12/21/2012.

Re:The best-seeded torrents... (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 4 years ago | (#33037560)

If you mean standstill in the sense that nobody will be downloading it, then I agree.

Imagine that (5, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 4 years ago | (#33035706)

Industry group ending in 'AA' pays to have study conducted that supports their views, doesn't care so much about accuracy.

News at eleven.

Re:Imagine that (5, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 4 years ago | (#33035874)

News at eleven.

I've got plans tonight and won't be home to catch the news at 11. Can someone upload a torrent for me?

Re:Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036652)

You can go to the movies, but your popcorn has been pissed in. News at 11

Moral Of The Story (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33035734)

Moral of the story.... don't trust seedy research.

Re:Moral Of The Story (5, Funny)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33035790)

Seedy research can plant misinformation.

Re:Moral Of The Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33035890)

Its ok, someone will come along and shed some light on it.

Re:Moral Of The Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036816)

Just as long as they don't spew bullshit.

Re:Moral Of The Story (2, Funny)

selven (1556643) | about 4 years ago | (#33037366)

But seedy research downloads more quickly!

Old content is interesting... (4, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | about 4 years ago | (#33035766)

One major problem with Bit Torrent is that you only get easy access to what is "popular" at any given time. I've gotten some TV show episodes (not available in the US) downloaded in a reasonable amount of time when I start the download within 24 hours of the original show being aired... but try to get the same episode 30 days later and availability drops in a hurry. Despite all the pro-P2P propaganda about how it "democratizes" data, it's really more a mob-rule popularity contest for grabbing the shiniest download.

Re:Old content is interesting... (5, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | about 4 years ago | (#33035836)

Get on a better site.

Re:Old content is interesting... (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 years ago | (#33036102)

It doesn't matter. There will only be two people seeding Mork and Mindy, no matter which tracker you use.

Re:Old content is interesting... (5, Informative)

Peach Rings (1782482) | about 4 years ago | (#33036440)

Two peoples private machines sitting there serving only you unpopular content for free out of good will isn't enough for you? 2 seeders is plenty, especially with hard-to-find content.

Re:Old content is interesting... (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 4 years ago | (#33036886)

Seriously! The kids these days! Sheesh...

Re:Old content is interesting... (1)

stop bothering me (1221424) | about 4 years ago | (#33038342)

<whiney voice>But i want it nowwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!11!</whiney voice>

Really? (1)

hellfire (86129) | about 4 years ago | (#33036706)

Oh Shazbot!

Re:Old content is interesting... (1)

straponego (521991) | about 4 years ago | (#33036718)

You're welcome for that, by the way.

Re:Old content is interesting... (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 4 years ago | (#33036986)

We must find those two people and kill them at once.
Better yet take off and nuke the site from orbit. Only way to be sure.

What would you recommend? n/t (1)

maillemaker (924053) | about 4 years ago | (#33037080)

What would you recommend?

Re:Old content is interesting... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33035850)

And that's why there's Usenet.

(Anon for breaking rule #1.)

Re:Old content is interesting... (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 4 years ago | (#33035878)

So, considering

the best seeded torrent at the moment only has 13,739 seeders

there isn't anything out there right now that goes over 1% of the popularity of the Hulk in it's prime? I somehow find that hard to believe.

Re:Old content is interesting... (4, Insightful)

JustinRLynn (831164) | about 4 years ago | (#33035908)

That's the thing about pure democracy, it is essentially the tyranny of the majority. This means that as a necessary consequence of a purely democratic download system only the most popular is the easiest to download. It's very similar to a free market, in that respect, in that it is exceedingly easy to get say, captain crunch cereal, versus something rarer, like say, unbleached nightshade flower. In a system where nothing is limited you can get anything you want, but it doesn't go hand-in-hand with being able to get whatever you want easily.

Re:Old content is interesting... (1)

KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) | about 4 years ago | (#33035960)

Depends on the content. If it's something popular, chances are people will keep sharing it. Or reshare it if the original torrents disappear.

I just downloaded a few TV shows that aired 10, 14 and 21 years back, myself.

Re:Old content is interesting... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036030)

...really more a mob-rule popularity contest for grabbing the shiniest download.

Right. What they said. It democratizes data. The data with the most popular support has the most popular support.

That means that data people no longer cares about gets lost to time. Of course, it only takes one person out there to keep that data alive. It may be slow, a little harder to find, and the connection to it may be less robust, but it's still there.

It also means if you get a community of people who don't want to see old TV and movies die, then everyone only has to host one or two shows and everything is available (with maybe a short wait...kinda like Netflix). And all it takes is a few megabytes of hard drive space and a not-unreasonably slow internet connection and you are now a contributor of equal status to everyone else, which I think is what they really mean by democratizing data. You don't have to have the bandwidth/storage infrastructure of RapidShare to ensure that the data you want to be available to the world is available to the world.

Re:Old content is interesting... (3, Informative)

urdak (457938) | about 4 years ago | (#33036056)

This is actually not true. I've often been downloading TV series and movies from the 60's, 70's and 80's, things I would never see on today's Television channels but bittorrent allows me to watch. Think of any tv show you liked as a child (or your father liked as a child), be it Star Trek (the original series), Little House on the Prairie or whatever - and you can watch it on bittorrent.

Re:Old content is interesting... (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 4 years ago | (#33036872)

I've often been downloading TV series and movies from the 60's, 70's and 80's, things I would never see on today's Television channels

Really? I thought there was at TV stations dedicated to older TV shows (TV Land [] ) and movies (Turner Classic Movies [] and AMC [] )... assuming you live in North America that is.

Heck, you can watch Star Trek TOS episodes directly on CBS's site last I checked.

Re:Old content is interesting... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 years ago | (#33036064)

That's because you're using a lawless public tracker. Things are different in a darknet.

Re:Old content is interesting... (1)

Spyware23 (1260322) | about 4 years ago | (#33036120)

Check if you get free Usenet access with your ISP, or purchase a Usenet account from time to time to download some of the older stuff. Although, even with 600+ days of retention, content falls through gaps.

Keep on seeding/posting!

Re:Old content is interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036296)

Usenet what is this Usenet you speak of? OH that service my ISP got rid of 3 years ago and kept then increased the prices on the remaining services.

Re:Old content is interesting... (1)

Radtoo (1646729) | about 4 years ago | (#33037224)

Actually, even politically democracies mainly do what's popular at the very moment. Not what was popular a year ago.

Also, for everything halfway popular, usually there are seeds left even after a long time, often years. But of course then you're more strictly bound to the available bandwidth of a few persons and you'll have to live with the fact that you're probably not the only person who wants something from the people who still have old files.

Re:Old content is interesting... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33037632)

Well, yes, that's the nature of the protocol. There are other distribution systems that are better at the "long tail" kind of stuff, notably Kad.

Green Thumb (1)

psbrogna (611644) | about 4 years ago | (#33035788)

RIAA Plants Seeds of Inaccuracy- News @ 11.

The argument is merely about numbers. (1)

falzer (224563) | about 4 years ago | (#33035806)

Turns out it was actually 0.003%*. Sorry for the confusion.

*All the legal transfers were of Ubuntu ISOs.

any1 else smell the stench of MPAA on this? (2, Insightful)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about 4 years ago | (#33035848)

I smell stench of MPAA's money involved in this. inflate the numbers to make things look worse for them just like the riaa does

Yes, the original report was SOOOO flawed! (1)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | about 4 years ago | (#33035856)

C'mon, does anyone really think that 99.7% of all torrent traffic is illegal? Everyone knows that the REAL number is 99.99%.

Torrents can be both legal and illegal at once (5, Insightful)

Dalzhim (1588707) | about 4 years ago | (#33035994)

Some country's laws may flag a torrent as illegal while other countries consider it as legal.
As an example, someone could be downloading a copyrighted song for backup purposes while owning a legitimate copy and these fools will automatically classify this kind of download an infringement.

Re:Torrents can be both legal and illegal at once (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036138)

I'm calling bullshit on this one. What percent of a song torrents downloads are used for backup purposes? Even at 1% thats still a fine margin of error for something like this. How many cd's have you bought in the last 5 years that haven't gone straight onto the computer anyways?

Re:Torrents can be both legal and illegal at once (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036254)

I've got a large number of scratched CD's that I've downloaded replacement MP3's for. When I was younger I was stupid with CD handling and also loaned them out only to get them back with scratches. One day I may get around to converting all my CD's to MP3's but it's gonna take a long time to get them all.

Re:Torrents can be both legal and illegal at once (1)

Konerak (902066) | about 4 years ago | (#33036256)

As an example, someone could be downloading a copyrighted song for backup purposes

But who has uploaded that copyrighted song for his own backup purposes?

Re:Torrents can be both legal and illegal at once (1)

TarMil (1623915) | about 4 years ago | (#33036594)

In this regard, everything on BitTorrent is legal.

Re:Torrents can be both legal and illegal at once (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | about 4 years ago | (#33036632)

Which is why an exemption that specifically allows you the right to back up your own CDs and move them onto whatever devices you own can trump your argument. If law enforcement is such that it is not illegal for me to do day-to-day activities on my computer with media I've legally acquired, then shutting down public trackers that make almost exclusively copyrighted material available is a possibity.

I don't have a problem with this scenario. The exemptions provided to the DMCA today allow me to enjoy my media within the bounds of the law, using whatever devices I desire. I don't buy the "information wants to be free" argument. It is merely an excuse for those who don't want to pay for anything, regardless of how much work was put into its creation. As a software developer who expects to somehow make a living writing code, it would be quite hypocritical for me to support a system which allows every creative work to be spread around the globe after a single person pays for it. Sure, there are people who want their creations spread on these terms, but we should respect those who don't, regardless of how badly they misbehave when their business model is threatened.

For me, supporting piracy has been about freedom, not money. It is true that the widespread adoption of the Internet throughout the world has changed many things, most notably the reduction in effort to create and distribute a copy. In an attempt to protect their business model, the MAFIAA has attempted to dictate their terms on how we may enjoy media in the digital age. No question that this is wrong, because it has made criminals of many people who are not criminals. People's rights have been trodden on while lawyers engage in a campaign of fear and misinformation. But, when supporting civil disobedience in protest against legal oppression, one must be willing to change one's stance when the change sought has been achieved, or at least solid progress has been made.

I admit, I have no reason to think that the American government will act in good faith. The track record of those who lobby for copyright reform is one of deception and fear. On the other hand, if all parties are willing to deescalate the fight, then perhaps rational minds will prevail once again. I, for one, am willing to give peace a chance. It's been a decade since the war on piracy began, and today is the most progress I've ever seen. I'm looking forward to a future where public concerns are granted equal weight to lobbyist's desires, despite the fact that the public concerns are rarely accompanied by a large brown envelope stuffed with cash.

Re:Torrents can be both legal and illegal at once (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036948)

Some country's laws may flag a torrent as illegal while other countries consider it as legal. As an example, someone could be downloading a copyrighted song for backup purposes while owning a legitimate copy and these fools will automatically classify this kind of download an infringement.

And let me provide an anecdote to show that this isn't just academic. Just the other day, I got a hankering to play Diablo II and didn't have it installed on the computer I was using. I own the game, but the discs are packed away in boxes somewhere (I just moved). So I downloaded a copy off BitTorrent, installed it using the CD key from my legit copy (which I had recorded among my digital documents), and was happily playing Act I that same day. Blizzard didn't lose one cent of revenue, but had some biased researcher been watching, they probably would have concluded that I had just snatched away a $20 sale of a new retail copy of Diablo II.

So yeah, this "torrent as backup" argument isn't just some rhetorical tactic that presupposes the existence of lazy idiots who would rather download MP3s than rip them from the CD sitting on their desk. How easily can you get to the physical copies of all the data you've paid for over the years? Isn't it nice knowing that there are people out there seeding copies for you?

Posting AC because I'm a dirty, dirty coward who's too afraid to admit that he downloaded Diablo II over BitTorrent—sorry.

Mentality (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036088)

I've compiled a list of the general nerd population's mentality of bittorrent here:

Up until research: But bittorrent is used for legit and legal things!

While discussing research: Dur hurrrr, so funny! It's almost all illegal!

Someone without any additional evidence refutes claims: Totally legit.

Don't get me wrong, even if there was anything the RIAA or MPAA could do about bittorrent itself, I would be against it (can't do much about a protocol anyway...), but I fully support them in their legal battles against sites that publish torrents of copyrighted material. You didn't pay for it, so you don't get to benefit from it.

TorrentFreak? Really? Consider the source. (1, Troll)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#33036118)

We are supposed to believe the analysis of a biased entity over professional researchers?

What, exactly, are TorrentFreak's and Ernesto's qualifications to analyze the data? Do they have education or degrees that include statistical and/or numerical analysis of data?

Or, did they read it and decide that it can't possibly be true because they don't like the results? Is it not in their best interest to promote the idea that the study is flawed?

Re:TorrentFreak? Really? Consider the source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036298)

Mod parent funny

Re:TorrentFreak? Really? Consider the source. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036402)

I'm sorry but anyone with common sense can see this report is full of crap. I won't argue that a lot of torrents are illegal, however, stating that 99% or so of torrents are illegal is outrageous. I've read numerous articles on all types of businesses starting to embrace bittorrent for a variety of reasons and not to mention all the linux and free software torrents as well as other works released under the public license. Also, what if you own what you are downloading to say make a digital that still illegal? You might not like TorrentFreak, fine, but seriously, any tech-savy person should be able to view that report and see some red flags.

Re:TorrentFreak? Really? Consider the source. (2, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33037322)

Blizzard uses torrents to distribute WOW patches.

Ubuntu, Eclipse, MySql, and more use torrents for the distribution of open source software.

For any widespread distribution of large files, bandwidth can become quite costly. Torrents are just about the best solution to reducing those costs.

Re:TorrentFreak? Really? Consider the source. (1)

KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) | about 4 years ago | (#33036616)

The study wasn't a study at all. Torrentfreak at least knows more about BitTorrent than the people that made the report, if they were actually looking for a result that they hadn't already decided.

Re:TorrentFreak? Really? Consider the source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036920)

Is it so hard to follow the links and look up the data yourself ?
From the original pdf :

Filename -> CurrentSeeds
TheIncredibleHulk[2008]DvDrip-aXXo ->1112628
IndianaJonesAndTheKingdomOfTheCrystalSkull[2008]-aXXo ->1029695
College[2008]DvDrip-aXXo339166021846.017 -> 509576
SherlockHolmes(2009)DVDSCRXviD-MAX -> 479655
Avatar(2009)PROPERTSXviD-MAX -> 332665
MeetDave[2008]DvDrip-aXXo -> 311894
LadyGaGa-TheFameMonster2CDRip2009[Cov+2CD][Bubanee] -> 308117
TheAndromedaStrain[2008]DvDrip-aXXo -> 284221
ShutterIsland(2010)R5DVDRipXviD-MAX -> 282628
2012(2009)R5DVDRipXviD-MAX -> 277043

Anyone who ever downloaded a file from torrent, legal or not, knows that these numbers never occur in real life. Hence the suspicion of bogus trackers or data..

Re:TorrentFreak? Really? Consider the source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33037490)

I mean, the current top spot on the pirate bay is occupied by The Twilight Saga Eclipse TS XViD - IMAGiNE with 17002 seeds followed by Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) R5 XviD-MAX with 11233 seeds.
The data in the report is definitely flawed, even if you combine the seeds of several trackers and several uploads of the same file you'll never get anywhere near those ridiculous numbers.

Re:TorrentFreak? Really? Consider the source. (4, Informative)

ernesto99 (952105) | about 4 years ago | (#33037612)

Ernesto here from TorrentFreak. I do have an academic background and used to teach statistics and research methods to (PhD) students. Not that it matters much, the comments I've made are pretty straightforward.

Re:TorrentFreak? Really? Consider the source. (3, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | about 4 years ago | (#33037836)

We are supposed to believe the analysis of a biased entity over professional researchers?

When the professional researchers conclude that "Music, movies and TV shows constituted the three largest categories of shared materials, and among those, zero legal files were found", we have to conclude that they didn't do a very good job, because there are at least two sites (Jamendo and Etree [] ) which allow nothing but legal music files, and both have tracked the exchange of many petabytes of data. (There are many more sites which limit themselves to legal material, but not to music--or TV or movies.)

If I were to do an analysis of FTP, and then deliberately limited my study to "pirate" sites, I would come up with a hopelessly biased sample and useless numbers. It may well be that the legal torrent sites are statistically insignificant, but if they didn't study them, how can they conclude that? Assuming that they are is basically assuming your conclusion. It begs the question.

I agree with your assessment of TorrentFreak, but a lack of credentials and credibility in a critic does not make a study legitimate.

The bad news... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33036162)

Guess which study the lobby groups (and consequently our politicians) are going to cite, and which one they will ignore?

It's too bad that there wasn't a way to attach this debunking to the original study, so that you would have to consciously ignore it. It will be really easy to lose these new findings in the shuffle.

Not news! (1)

suman28 (558822) | about 4 years ago | (#33036206)

This should not be surprising to anyone. Such studies are published mostly to keep laws up against file sharers, and companies (napster, piratebay and so on), so that ?PAA can justify their existence.

Re:Not news! (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | about 4 years ago | (#33036788)

your right this is not news because a lot of data about this stuff is fake or planted so no one knows the real data since torrents are illegal.

Response from the researchers (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33037398)

Ars technica [] has actually asked the researchers about the issue. Here is the response from Paul Watters, one of the researchers:

Thank you for your enquiry regarding our research report "Investigation into the extent of infringing content on BitTorrent networks". As researchers, we not only stand by the findings that we have arrived at, but - having made our methodology public - we are providing other bona fide researchers to replicate and/or dispute our findings. Their results can in turn be assessed through the peer review process; this is the process that normal research activity takes.

        You have raised some interesting points that are fundamental to the validitiy of any study in this area: the sampling strategy; verification of results and so on. We believe that our methodology was rigorously applied to the sample that we obtained. Over time, we will replicate the sampling process, so that we will gain better estimates of the population results. This is the fundamental tenet of statistical sampling.

Re:Response from the researchers (2, Informative)

ernesto99 (952105) | about 4 years ago | (#33037818)

I (TorrentFreak) got the same response, they're simply ignoring the criticism and questions that I've asked. If they want to stand by bogus data that's their choice.

Re:Response from the researchers (1)

lmnfrs (829146) | about 4 years ago | (#33038034)

A response as soon as this is a good indicator, but I have a feeling, even though the Ars article notes other interesting points, the seemingly bad numbers will be focused on since a torrent site brought that point. Mr. Watters, even though your response makes sense, only 0.3% of Internet readers will realize you're not ignoring obvious fallacies. It's funny how much the speed of the Internet detriments the time put into considering the facts that make up the context.

Faulty Arguments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33037774)

1. The data is necessarily old. You can not do a study overnight and release the results the next day; you can not update the data during a test without having to start over. This data looks to be approximate 18 months old. A reasonable conclusion is that it reflects the situation of torrents 18 months ago... while this should be taken into account it certainly doesn't undermine the study.

2. They obviously did not check every file on the internet. In fact, according to Ars Technica, the "sample consisted of 1,000 torrent files" randomly selected from among the most active. It might be reasonable to question whether their sampling size was large enough to reduce the false positive rate... but who cares if the "The Hulk" wasn't the most downloaded movie at the time? If the most downloaded file appeared at the top of the random list it would be a sign of a sampling error.

3. Downloading copyrighted movies and music theft. It is stealing from the hard working men and women of the entertainment industries... it is stealing from every honest person who pays more for music/movies to offset the theft. Just because you feel invincible and entitled doesn't mean you are. I hope you are all prosecuted to make it clear that theft will not be tolerated.

Re:Faulty Arguments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33037880)

1. You're wrong.
Several files listed in their Top 100 are from 2010, therefore the data is not 18 months old.

2. lol

3. You're cute.

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