BitTorrent Goes Legit
The once nefarious BitTorrent has gone legit – it’s the end of the world as we know it. A file-sharing pirate’s best friend, BitTorrent is now officially working for The Man and has signed deals with numerous content providers to offer for-pay movie, TV show, and video game downloads. The BitTorrent technology developed by Bram Cohen assembles digital movies and other computer files from separate bits of data downloaded from other computer users across the Internet. Its decentralized nature makes downloading more efficient, meaning that a full-length movie should download in about a half hour, about twice as fast as some other sites.
Warner Bros., Fox, Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM will offer a combined total of over 3,000 new and classic movies to the service, but unlike selections from rivals Apple, Amazon, and Walmart, the movies will only be available to rent: the $2.99 or $3.99 downloads expire after either 30 days or 24 hours from when viewing begins. The San Francisco-based company is betting that at least one-third of the 135 million people who have downloaded the BitTorrent software will be willing to pay for high-quality legal content rather than take their chances with pirated fare.
Users will get to own other types of content such as TV shows ($1.99-a-pop), music videos, and as-yet-undisclosed PC games. Commercial downloads will be intermingled with the free content that BitTorrent fans are accustomed to swapping, and will be protected by Microsoft DRM — a condition that Cohen begrudgingly accepted, claiming, “We are not happy with the user interface implications. It’s an unfortunate thing.”