05/08/2013 05:20 pm ET

BitTorrent Tells Netflix: We're Not Pirates And You're Not Reducing Our Traffic


Last week, Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos said that Netflix is reducing piracy by simply providing good content at a reasonable price. "When we launch in a territory," Sarandos said in an interview with Stuff magazine, "the BitTorrent traffic drops as the Netflix traffic grows."

But on Monday, Matt Mason of the official blog for BitTorrent, a way to conduct peer-to-peer file sharing, stepped up to correct some of Sarandos' claims. First, he said, one should not equate BitTorrent traffic with piracy. "[BitTorrent is] the world’s most efficient way to move data across the web," Mason said, naming sites like Facebook and Twitter that use BitTorrent to move code. According to Mason, the BitTorrent "ecosystem" has more than 2 million pieces of legally distributed content -- dwarfing Netflix's 60,000.

Mason also claimed that BitTorrent's traffic drops are not caused by "pirates" or people using Netflix instead of BitTorrent. Instead, Mason said, the decline in traffic is caused by an internal BitTorrent protocol called μTP, which "dials back BitTorrent traffic during peak hours in order to give priority to other applications" like Netflix. So according to Mason, BitTorrent intends to have a drop in traffic that coincides with an increase in Netflix use.

But BitTorrent may need more than a snappy reply to convince the world its primary use isn't the distribution of pirated files. After all, the most well-known BitTorrent site these days is The Pirate Bay, which has made its name distributing pirated content. And several other well-known torrent sites have been shut down over copyright claims. Meanwhile, legal torrent sites remain relatively unknown…which is a shame for the image BitTorrent is trying to project.



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