A hero rides in!

Posted: December 20, 2014 by IntentionalPrivacy in free speech, Intellectual Property, Security Breach
Tags: , , , , , ,

On December 17, Matt Mason (@MattMason), chief content officer at BitTorrent, tweeted that “Sony should release The Interview as a BitTorrent Bundle. This is the very thing the platform is designed for.”

Okay! An unlikely hero rides to the forefront!

What is BitTorrent?

BitTorrent is file-sharing software that uses a peer-to-peer computer model. Peer-to-peer means that files transfer from device to device instead of getting them from a centralized server.

How it works: The hoster of a file breaks a large file into smaller, equal-sized pieces and stores the pieces on seed computers. Then the hoster creates a small torrent descriptor file that they advertise. The torrent software is installed on a client computer. When the client decides to download a file, the software locates the pieces on seed computers and starts transferring pieces. The pieces typically arrive out of order and are re-arranged into the proper order when the transfer of all the pieces completes. That means the download can be stopped at any time and re-started without having to start the download over. When the file has been completely downloaded, the client with the completed file becomes a seed computer for other clients to download the pieces.

According to Wikipedia, an estimate of monthly BitTorrent users was about 250 million in January 2012. That means that as the file pieces are distributed to seed computers and downloaded by client computers who then become seed computers, the speed of file distribution increases.

You may even have been using BitTorrent already and didn’t know it. It is a component in Amazon S3 Simple Storage Service, an online service providing cloud applications, backup, and content distribution. Open source and free software projects use it to distribute downloads. Blizzard Entertainment’s Blizzard Downloader client (Diablo III, Starcraft II, and World of Warcraft) uses it for games, content, and patches. Universities sponsoring BOINC distributed computing projects often offer BitTorrent to reduce bandwidth costs. It supports Facebook and Twitter.

Why could BitTorrent release The Interview when the major theater chains couldn’t?

The peer-to-peer model would make it difficult for the attackers to stop downloads of the file.

And, “BitTorrent Bundle is a safe and legal way for Sony to release this film, and they would join the nearly 20,000 creators and rights holders now using the Bundle publishing platform,” said BitTorrent according to VentureBeat.

Why does BitTorrent think it is better to release the movie through them instead of through Sony’s own online video channels?

According to BitTorrent, by “using the paygate option, Sony are able to set the price for the film and release it widely without implicating anyone or exposing any third party to a terrorist threat,” and “it would strike a strong note for free speech.”

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Linton told CNN on December 19th that “no ‘major video on demand distributor’ has been ‘willing to distribute’ the film. ‘We don’t have that direct interface with the American public, so we need to go through an intermediary to do that.’”

Sony, meet BitTorrent.

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