How BitTorrent Works
BitTorrent, and other popular web-based services like it such as the ill-fated Napster, Kazaa, and Limewire, are known as peer-to-peer networks. Peer-to-peer networks operate differently than the traditional web-based program. Peer-to-peer networks are more efficient than the traditional web-based network because peer-to-peer networks rely on numerous databases or servers rather than one to store information.
The proliferation of BitTorrent lawsuits has spawned groups of scurrilous attorneys who try to force a person—who may be innocent—to settle a BitTorrent lawsuit by using sharp practices and scare tactics. If you receive notice that you are suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted material, you must contact an experienced BitTorrent defense attorney immediately to protect your fights. Failing to do so could cause financial ruin for you and your family.
Peer to Peer Networks
Defense of a copyright infringement lawsuit based on a BitTorrent download starts with a working knowledge of how peer-to-peer networks operate. Peer-to-peer networks operate in this fashion:
- A person connects to the internet via their internet service provider (ISP);
- That person makes a copy of a copyright-protected work and stores it on a local computer. The copy is called a “seed;”
- Other users search the internet for the same file and locate the seed file;
- The seed file must be downloaded from a BitTorrent download program, and the data available for download are marked “.torrent;”
- Once many users begin requesting the same file, the seed is distributed to the group. The group is called a swarm;
- Each user, also known as a peer or leecher, receives a different portion of the seed file; and
- For the process to work, each user must grant access to their portion of the seed, thus allowing a user to play the entire file.
The torrent refers to the amount of information being downloaded at one time of various locations. An end user’s computer is inundated with information all at once from multiple sources after requesting to download a file using the peer-to-peer network. A good visual to help understand the process is to think of a torrential rainstorm and how precipitation rapidly and forcefully descends from the rain clouds.
A search cannot be completed without the use of an application called a tracker. A BitTorrent tracker is on a particular server that, as the name suggests, tracks users on the system. The tracker connects a person’s internet protocol address (IP) to another user’s IP address to locate the designated file. The tracking program shares the IP addresses with the swarm. The tracking program does not perform the download. Technology has advanced to render trackers nearly obsolete. The trend is for each peer to be a tracker for the BitTorrent software.
BitTorrent seems ideal for pirating copyrighted material. Advocates say that the program has many worthwhile and legitimate uses. For example, BitTorrent can be used to distribute a significant amount of information to a multitude of people without occupying too much bandwidth. Overloading bandwidth slows download speeds and interrupts connectivity. Many modern video games users play on their personal computers download the game and the game’s modules from a BitTorrent client. The principal benefit is that the users can download the game information rapidly without compromising the game server’s bandwidth. Additionally, BitTorrent users can disseminate free music and movies, or other commonly copyright protected material via BitTorrent.
Notwithstanding the legitimate users for BitTorrent, the program lends itself to piracy because of the decentralized storage system. Whereas Napster failed because that peer-to-peer network used central storage systems, BitTorrent’s design is conducive to hiding and distributing copyright protected files.