Networking

Legal applications of BitTorrent

BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, and its implementation software have received much ire from the content creation industries. However, there are certain fundamental aspects underlying this technology that could solve many issues relating to computing on a wide scale.

BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, and its implementation software have received much ire from the content creation industries. However, there are certain fundamental aspects underlying this technology that could solve many issues relating to computing on a wide scale.

The IT department at INHOLLAND University used the BitTorrent protocol for dropping 22TB of patches on 6500 PCs in four hours. The gargantuan amount of downloads aside, that task used to take almost two dozen servers four days in the past.

An excerpt from Ars Technica:

Leo Blom of ITeleo, who came up with the idea of using BitTorrent, told Ars, "Let me put it this way: if INHOLLAND wants to migrate to Windows Vista, they only have to send out an image through BT. All 6,500 desktops can be migrated overnight in two hours' time—with one push of a button. It's a real migration killer. Migration used to mean a lengthy and trying process. At INHOLLAND, we took a different approach."

Bandwidth was an abundant resource when most of the content on the Web was textual. Now, with the proliferation of media, ISPs are facing the pressure and are also demanding pricing schemes that take the data usage patterns into consideration.

Peer-to-peer networks are finding application in making Wi-Fi networks free for Internet access on a voluntary basis.

Perhaps applying the P2P protocols for applications, such as the ones mentioned above, can optimize the usage of bandwidth on a wider scale. Is it not time to ponder the legal applications of BitTorrent?

24 comments
rhinoxsis
rhinoxsis

I think the enterprise applications of BitTorrent tech are the most interesting, like Facebook, it has 10k servers so it uses BitTorrent internally to help migrate information between them. Then there are the standard consumer applications, but I think the most interesting of those are the new crop of "legal" torrent sites. http://www.newmediarights.org/business_models/artist/how_find_free_and_legal_bittorrent_sites There are a whole lot of them popping up that only offer torrents connected to files that can be distributed legally.

seanferd
seanferd

Perhaps not all that clever, but different from how the home-user thinks about torrents.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I've never investigated torrents since the phrase "peer to peer" makes me nervous and then I lose bladder control. Am I unnecessarily worried about potential security risks? Since I've never looked at it, what am I missing, either in terms of technology or content? From the 19th century, thank you.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

If BitTorrent is illegal then so is windows, after all you can copy and share files on that can't you? It's not as effective and there are serious security issues, but the legality of any data transfer mechanism, is a moot point. Some ISP want to block it, because they under invested in their infra-structure. The RIAA want it made illegal because it's the only only practical solution to THEIR problem. Legal applications of bit torrent... Sheesh

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

Just that 1) a large# of people are cr*ping up ISPs by setting up their home PCs as servers, typically for illegal files since most legal files people want to share can be found on servers in data centers. 2) at companies they set these up for non-biz related reasons, 3) doing #2 gives off a foul odor when the novice users expose state govt shared drives or the shared drive in a legal firm to the internet for example (both these and probably many more actually happened) 4) versions of bittorent are said to have spyware I foresee use for apps like this to prevent govt intrusion in fights for freedom in repressive regimes around the world. And no, I don't mean your freedom to steal movies and music.

Jaqui
Jaqui

If the user is not downloading protected content. [ movies, games, proprietary software ] Most GNU-Linux distributions use torrents to distribute their FREE software.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

MyBitTorrent is the only one that works.When you download a Torrent you download a Torrent file with a program like BitLord.The Torrent file is small but starts the download.You never download just the application file like a TR download does.It's always the Torrent file,then BitLord puts the downloaded application in their Download folder.You can download movies and programs like Nero.Torrent downloads have stuff like Keygens that generate the numeric series to unlock the software and take it out of Demo mode.Free software that is fully functional.However most Torrent sites display the applications but the download never starts.The Government Torrent is where ALL software sits after it is written.Even Microsoft is a Torrent file download.

seanferd
seanferd

That's actually a "mu", not a "u". BitTorrent bought this sucker because it is so good. Executable-only app at about 500k. It's great. Just make sure you are downloading a good file. Even if someone in the p2p net is sending out infected chunks, they will be dropped by the app for failing hash. If a particular IP keeps sending hash-failing chunks, it will be banned by your client.

bob
bob

I have to admit I am a bit skeptical about the Torrent world, but I see it as a useful tool. After all guns don't kill people, people kill people. A tool is only as good or bad as the people who use it.

bob
bob

I have to admit I am a bit skeptical about the Torrent world

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

There are some client software Kazaa fior instance that used the greed of content abusers to propagate all sorts of nasties, many built into the client itself! There are some very good clients out there though. WinTorrent is something I'm looking at and I use Emule, which is a very popular open source P2P client. The next danger is people propagating stuff you really don't want. I've downloaded files that appeared to be ok that were chock full of nasties, all caught by my anti virus or crippled by my outbound firewall rules. Third There is a lot of illegal content on P2P, child porn, hacks, cracks, copyright violations. It is the tool of choice for the bad guys, so you can easily be inadvertantly labelled as one of them. The foolish or the ignorant could end up as a child porn distributor for a space of time for isntance, be really careful what you choose to download. While you have that file complete or partial sharing is on so you are sharing it as well. Other than that think of it as a way of downloading Chapers 1- 8 in parallel off 8 different servers.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Basically, torrents work by making an identifier anouncment too the various torrent networks by "seeding". That allows any files a torrent provider has chosen to host available too search engines. The torrent file may also be hosted directly on a website as a link like any other. The client browser finds the torrent links by browsing or search engine and downloads a small pointer file for the one they choose. This is a text file that simply holds the seeded identifier that your torrent client will pull packets for. This file can be saved to the drive or fed directly into the client with it saving the file in it's prefered location. When you tell your torrent client to start downloading, it captures the packets that relate to the torrent file you are after. If it's your favourit legal OS.ISO then you will start to collect pieces of it from anyone who chooses to host the file. Once all packets are recieved, the file is confirmed as conplete and undamaged; I'm guessing checksum hashes but haven't confirmed. You now have the file. Move it from your torrent download folder and delete the pointer file unless you want it for future use. The risk of viruses is the same as downloading from any other source on the internet. Scan it with your favourite AV and don't download untrusted crap that poses obvious system or legal threats. The original purpose of the torrent protocol was too reduce the load on ftp/http servers. Large files can be downloaded from many sources using a small amount of bandwidth from each host and other user downloading that same file (depending on there settings). Contrary to some beliefs, torrents where not intended to be much faster than a direct FTP, only reduce the load by spreading it over multiple servers. Some torrents can be painfully slow. I keep my AV updated, don't download unlicensed or questionable files and don't leave my whole drive wide open to anyone searching. The torrent client is only left running when downloading. There have been no issues so far but I continue to be just a little less paranoid than you. If your really nervious, setup a VM for hosting your prefered torrent client then move the files to your host OS only after you've scanned them and confirmed that they are as advertised.

swheeler
swheeler

BitTorrent is a great file sharing protocol where multiple downloaders can exchange just the pieces of the application they need until they have the whole app. It's all automated by the bittorrent client, with various views of the downloads in process. There is no need to open up your entire hard drive or folders. One can choose which files to share, as each file must have a corresponding torrent file. Think of a torrent as a lifetime bus ticket. Download the ticket and you are free to ride (download) the application until you are done and still share it when it's complete. I use bittorrent for free and trial software downloads. It's very reliable and I can start and stop the download when I wish. Like any good tool, it can and is used for theft of intellectual property. I believe this leaves no legal burden to the protocol itself, just the users.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

torrents, a file transfer protocol, is somehow inherently good or evil (illegal).. bwahahaha.. BS. The shmuck that transfers any illegal media over any transfer protocol is the problem, not the chosen protocol.

GSG
GSG

"doing #2 gives off a foul odor when the novice users expose state govt shared drives or the shared drive in a legal firm to the internet for example (both these and probably many more actually happened)" I'm not familiar with BitTorrent as I've never gotten into the file sharing stuff, but couldn't you lock this out so that BitTorrent was isolated on your network and not allowed to the outside world? What about setting permissions so that only the Domain Admin(s) had rights to access and run it? If you could, it sounds like it would be a good tool to use to push out apps and updates, something that many smaller IT shops struggle with.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

That's how I got my 5.1.1 version of Knoppix. I tried several times to d/l via ftp/http and it always crapped out 1/2 way thru. Used the torrent route, and VOILA! I got my Knoppix DVD ISO. Nothing illegal about torrent. It's what you download with it that makes or breaks.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

That a lot of people in law enforcement believe that all copying is illegal. I remember hearing about a police department that seized thousands of ?unauthorized? copies of Firefox and Linux. The department was so indignant when they where told return everything and release everyone, that they were considering charging the creators of Firefox and Linux with violating any law that they could think of.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"The Government Torrent is where ALL software sits after it is written.Even Microsoft is a Torrent file download." It's like a little ray of babbling sunshine in my otherwise dreary logical world.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

If it wasn't for TCPIP, there wouldn't be a problem with torrents! RIAA should shutdown the Internet while they're at it!

Lovs2look
Lovs2look

Do you think he's running a random word generator? Seems likely...

GSG
GSG

You've done it now. I'm sure the RIAA sniffs the internet looking for someone taking their acronym in vain. You just had to mention shutting down the 'net. I'm sure there's some RIAA lackey right now running for the plug, and the 'net will go dark in 10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1..............................

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

After all, those pesky electrons result in electricity which becomes computer pulses represented by computer chip supported TCPIP human readable form! Physics is a gateway drug. We have to ban the electrons for the good of all humanity! Oh,.. Who will think of the children? Hehe.. oh wow we could have fun with this line of jokes.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

He's sat there chortling at us. He's smacked out of his head. Course they could both be true.

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