The RIAA Wants Another “Ally” in the Fight Against Piracy: BitTorrent

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” This emblematic sentence was the first thing that came to my mind after I read the letter to Brad Buckles, vice president of anti-piracy division of the RIAA sent Eric Klinker, CEO of BitTorrent Inc. The document is an invitation – somewhat provocative, say – for both organizations become partners in the fight against piracy.


The RIAA, it costs remember, is the association representing the recording industry in the United States. As such, the organization lives on the warpath against the illegal distribution of music, especially in online services.

I always imagine the staff there seething every time some statistics on piracy comes up.This is because the RIAA carries in its history very aggressive measures to combat the problem, how to process individuals and press internet providers.

Not surprisingly, therefore, that the letter in question has a high acid content. To begin with, the document dated July 30, it is timely, coming at a time that BitTorrent Inc. celebrates ten years of existence. Also, the letter, despite the apparent mediator tone is embedded at critical.

Buckles points out that 75% of more than 1.6 million copyright violations identified by the RIAA in the United States in 2014 came from the torrents of customers distributed by BitTorrent Inc. The executive also highlights that an analysis of random samples of 500 torrents DHT (Distributed Hash Table) the company indicated that 82.4% of thecontent corresponds to commercially available material, so it is highly likely that this percentage indicates copyright infringement.

There’s more: 99 100 torrents of music more popular KickassTorrents has some kind of violation, in the words of Brad Buckles.

The leader of the RIAA used all these numbers to challenge how BitTorrent Inc. handles it. To Buckles, it makes sense the company claim to be against piracy, but do nothing to combat the problem.

There is even a certain arrogance, according to the RIAA. In the letter, Buckles cites the statement of Matt Mason, BitTorrent’s content chief, that piracy occurs outside the enterprise ecosystem. The RIAA rebate under the argument that the most popular torrent clients today, uTorrent and BitTorrent (both from BitTorrent Inc.), are used by millions of people and the number of offenses come there often exceeds the number of notifications issued by the entity to date.

These questions are not new to BitTorrent Inc. The company always defended on the grounds that it is responsible for the protocol that takes its name, not by the use made of it. In a simplistic analogy, blame it would be like to associate the construction of the road on the trail of the thief.

In the end, what the RIAA wants BitTorrent? The company adopt strict measures to mitigate piracy – in another tone, that oversees the street.

The RIAA proposes a “partnership”. The association can provide torrent hashes associated with piracy and BitTorrent Inc., in turn, takes actions to avoid copyright infringement. This point had room for one more nudge, “we also know that several companies offer services that help identify illegal sites and torrents that can be useful to BitTorrent”, says an excerpt of the letter.

still no answer. I do not know if there will be. But you can bet that easy BitTorrent Inc. will not accept the “proposal”, after all, the company has spent the last years disengaging masterfully accusations and questions about piracy.

A court decision or another can even determine the implementation of filters or engine type in torrents of customers, but there are several complications there. It would be necessary, for example, prove the illegitimacy of the blocked content – the RIAA could even give certainty about the alleged violations in the 500 torrents analyzed.

Controversy or not, the investees RIAA are understandable. Piracy affects a consolidated business model for years and no one is unaware of a threat. But it is precisely therein lies the problem. Times have changed. The technology stimulates new forms of content use. Not adequately meet this demand will not people be content with an old formula.

We know historically that restrict sharing media does not work. A service can even be destroyed, but people will find other ways. What works is to invest in business models that may be more interesting and practical consumers than piracy, although this new approach has to be polished to give financial return.

Streaming services are there to prove that gives rather to tread more daring ways, although the sector has not, so far, consistent signs of profitability. Coincidence or not, another example comes from BitTorrent itself. The company has since 2013 the BitTorrent Bundle, a service that offers download content via P2P, but upon payment of small amounts.

BitTorrent Bundle does not have a large base of content, but has been slowly attracting artists, not only by the expectation of compensation (no intermediaries and the artist usually gets 90% of revenue), but also the approach to the public that the model provides. One of the supporters of the idea is none other than Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead and bitter enemy of the ungenerous manner in which the traditional record companies treat artists.