back to article Survey: Only 1% of Torrents non-infringing

99 per cent of files accessed through a Torrent network are unlicensed copyright material, according to a survey by an American undergraduate. Only 10 of the 1021 files in the survey could be distributed over the Mainline network without infringing copyright. The ten works licensed for distribution included two Linux distros, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Percentage of torrents

    I wonder how the percentage of legitimate torrents change on WoW patch day....

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Legit p2p

    Legit p2p is legit p2p. Roll on F13.

  3. Chad H.
    Thumb Down

    This just shows corporate paranoia on p2p

    I think this goes to show the level of paranoia corporations have for p2p. Instead of the "great way to make someone else pay our bandwith costs" that blizzard took, they've thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

  4. mlo0352
    Thumb Up

    Legal Porn

    I would like to know how you can determine the copyright status of porn...I mean, even with the amateur stuff, I am sure that most porn is copyrighted at some level. Were the works in question simply not recognized as being copyrighted materials?

    Not very well worded, but do you get my question? Is there that much amateur porn that is distributed free-of-charge?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Porn copyright

      The creator of any artistic work automatically retains copyright until 70 years after their death.

      So presumably the non-copyright porn involved corpses more than 70 years old.


    2. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      Copyright exists...

      ...from the moment of creation. So any "content" amateur or professional should be considered copyrighted. Interestingly, pr0n was not given copyright protection in the USA until 1979.


  5. John70


    Only 14% was smut?

    hmmm... better do my own survey to see if that's accurate.

  6. The Original Steve


    Two points:

    1> The sample size is too small to be of any use to anyone

    2> How does he know if it infringes? If I buy Windows 7 and lose my media, I still have a licence to use it...? Or does the law not allow for that?

    1. mwk

      It wouldn't surprise me

      if they managed to work in a bit about how you've bought a license to use the software only if it's installed from the specific disks you purchased.

    2. DannyAston
      Thumb Down


      Yep, sample size is tiny.

    3. Chris Miller


      It's a small sample, but opinion polls use (carefully stratified) samples of 1,000 to represent the views of 60million Britons with a 3% error margin. In any case, if the survey really shows 99% infringing, it's very unlikely that the true value is <90%.

      Similarly, some of the assignments as infringing might be incorrect (though I'd bet the proprortion of legit downloads of MS software is vanishingly small), but the result that the huge majority of Torrents contain copyright material surely can't be a big surprise.

      File under "In depth research reveals Pope to be Catholic".

    4. mego
      Big Brother


      Absolutely my first thought on reading this. It's like another one of those reports that claim such-and-such a company is losing billions to piracy.

      So what, did the reviewer download every torrent out there and validate them against a known database of intellectual property?

      I'd say FAIL, except the marketing companies don't give a toss for honesty in these situations. Neither do the courts, so long as they can pretend "due diligence" in the matter. This report, with it's scabby 99% claims will eventually get used in court to push the service out of the water.

      It'll never fly in court because it's based on bad data you say? Since when did that stop stupid Judges from making even more stupid judgments on even stupider cases? Craps sake, we even allow burglars to sue the owner of a house if they trip on the front mat after breaking in. Damn Skippy this will fly in court.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The linked article (and thus this one) is too vague

    "Unlike other P2P applications, Bittorrent ..."

    The research link suggests that they are talking about the protocol, not the application?

    "no attempt to disguise the seeder or downloader from snoopers"

    BitTorrent (the application) may not, but many other applications can and do, thus it's impossible to assess what is and isn't hidden, because you can't see what's hidden, otherwise it wouldn't be hidden. I only accept encrypted traffic, regardless of the legitimacy of the file.

    At the end of the linked article we have :

    "This result should be interpreted with caution, as we may have missed some non-infringing files, and our sample is of files available, not files actually downloaded. Still, the result suggests strongly that copyright infringement is widespread among BitTorrent users."

    Very scientific, I'm sure.

  8. PaulW

    DHT only?

    It was evaluated using DHT only based mechanisms*? I would imagine that would skew the results quite a bit too... Actually reading the paper there are quite a few holes in the survey anyway. And as has been pointed out >1500 torrents would be lead to quite a margin of error.

    All in all it looks like someone needs to go back to statistics 101, plus understand how users initiate torrent transfers - its a very narrow scope of investigation from the looks of it.

    * Are legit files even available via DHT? I would think not (*BSD and Linux downloads all look tracker initiated to me at a quick glance of 4 sites - is that within a margin of error?)

  9. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    So, if copyright claims were limited to 10 years...

    ...would things look better?

    In the meantime, I can't be made to dredge up care, even though I don't "share".

  10. Graham Wilson

    I assume he's looking for an investigative job with the RIAA or BSA.

    I assume he's looking for an investigative job with the RIAA or BSA. There's always someone who'll slum it at the lowest level.

    The figures seem high but I'd imagine they're probably correct. Why else would anyone waste time on p2p Torrents networks unless they have ill intent?

    Is there any real legit use for torrents (I've difficulty thinking of any)?

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      Cascade Routing...

      ...of which Bit Torrent is a subset, is the future of content distribution. If 10 or so neighbors already have the latest movie, live TV event, whatever, it's win-win for local ISP and content owner alike.

      I expect to see cascade built into Set Top Boxes of the future. Sadly, the pioneers in the field, Bit Torrent, have had their brand sullied beyond use by the freetards.

      1. Graham Wilson

        @Disco-Legend-Zeke "Cascade Routing..." Ok, fine, I concede that but...

        Ok, fine, I concede that but the retards to which you refer are screwing up any chance of better copyright reform for the rest of us.

        If you read any of my posts on copyright, you'll realise I'm concerned about its extreme unfairness and the difficulties it causes ordinary users who’ve no rights to use whatsoever other than those determined by the copyright holder. Copyright is an absolute Monopoly that makes Gates look reasonable (after all he has some competition).

        Torrents and the retars that abuse them give the RIAA and BSA and their cronies every excuse they need to call for tighter legislation. Any call for a proper debate and analysis of copyright law in the digital age gets lost in the noise of the RIAA et al squawking and shrieking over torrent piracy. It does the case for reform of copyright laws no good.

        Think of it this way, RIAA etc. doesn’t want it too quiet on the copyright front as it would be much harder in a proper debate for it to put a cogent argument to hold onto its absolute monopoly (much of which has been 'stolen' from society as no copyright is created in a total vacuum of ideas). Torrents and such provide that distracting noise.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time for a bit of correlation then.

    And how does this mesh with the earth-shattering finding that DRM drives demand on P2P networks? Of course no reputable statistician will come near any of these numbers so it's all lies, damn lies, and MPAA/RIAA propaganda. In fact, wouldn't be surprised if there is a juicy astroturfing conspiracy link or two to uncover now that the MPA were found to cook government reports like British Cuisine.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Says who?

    Sorry - but I don't believe for a moment that this guy had a fraction of the time, resources and traffic access to come to a sweeping conclusion like this, not to mention the dubious sample size. Just another "statistics have shown..." bit of nonsense.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why only check trackerless torrents?

    Most Linux distros and legitimate p2p torrents I've seen use trackers.

    The article title incorrectly uses the word census.

    He used a very small sample of torrent files, hardly a census.

  14. ShellShockeD

    woot no fake files

    and how meny of the files where fakes or 1gig+ sucker files that then ask you to go on and get a media player that is a trogen in disgues . becuase a damned sight more that 1% of the files my step dad down loads are the above .

  15. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    What's the % on email?

    Isn't email 98% spam? But for some reason we keep using it. It's almost as if the legitimate uses somehow, despite being outnumbered 50-to-1 by the crap, make it worth struggling on with. Sounds like torrents are in that same area.

    Paris, because she's at least as good as email.

  16. Justin Clements

    Of course its only 1%!!

    And not for the obvious reasons.

    The reason no one uses torrents for commercial use (eg downloading legal video, or large downloads) is because torrents are crippled. Why use a protocol that during the day is crippled by most ISPs to next to nothing, when http gets around all that and isn't crippled in the same way?

  17. Vaidotas Zemlys

    More details?

    aHm a bit more statistical details would be nice to know. What was the cost of the sample for example? 10 samples of size 500 would have told us much more. How the uniformity of the sample was achieved? What was the error of the share estimates etc. And last but notes least, can these results be easily reproduced (at least the names of the files). I've sen too much examples of misused statistical methods to trust any kind of survey without some of the above mentioned details disclosed.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    I just hope..

    ..that some of the torrents are ripping off bloody Bono.

  19. Dave 63


    It's legal to obtain that copy of Windows7 you bought and paid for. What's not legal is you sharing it with the rest of the world as you download.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Most torrents are infringing but tough luck

    Most of the content on the bittorrent sites that I use is clearly in breach of copyright. Whether the proportion is 100%, 80% or 60% the fact is that the majority of torrents and most bittorrent traffic are illegal. Almost all bittorrent sites are set up specifically to enable the distribution of material illegally and there isn't much point arguing that in the vast majority of cases, bittorrent is not used for illegal purposes.

    However, none of this should make any difference to anyone. In the unlikely event that rights holders are successful in stopping the trackers, or bittorrent search engines, another technology will pop up. There have been numerous ways of sharing material including IRC, Usenet, Bittorrent, ftp servers, file sharing sites (like Rapidshare and Megaupload) and no doubt many others. Stopping any or even all of them will make almost no difference.

    There is only one way to stop piracy and that's to offer copyrighted material cheaply and conveniently. It has worked for Apple and it will work for others if they focus on innovation and stop lining the pockets of their lawyers at the expense of their customers.

    Come on dinosaurs, use your imagination or you will be extinct no matter how aggressive you are about enforcement of the outdated IP laws.

  21. heyrick Silver badge

    RIAA, are you listening?

    There was more smut than music. Only 10% was music. Their tiny sample size must have been tone-deaf or something - the way the music industry is carrying on, I'd have expected a much higher figure.

  22. mmiied

    what was intresting

    was the Large proportation that TV and p0rn took up and the very small portion that music took up considriting how much wining we here form the likes of the RIAA and others acording to this there is 4x the amount of movies and tv than music and 1.4x the amount of porn

    is there any p0rn indrustry boady we can get a statment from on these figgers?

  23. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge


    I was surprised to find just 10% were music as I'd have expected that to have been higher.

    This only covers one transfer medium so it could well be that different mediums are used for different things; web downloads are fine for music CD's ( around 50MB-100MB ) but ripped DVD's too large.

    It's also, as noted in comments above, not surprising that legit material isn't often found; why would it be when such material can be downloaded from locations which advertise in the clear ? The only use of torrents in such cases is to spread bandwidth demands across servers.

    So, interesting as it may be, it doesn't really reveal much. I would expect the balance of what's available at any time to reflect public interests at those times. Longer term trends would be interesting to see.

  24. Not Fred31

    wow, what else have undergraduates being saying?

    "according to a survey by an American undergraduate." Have you asked your postman what he thinks?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    And 99% of torrents comprise... stuff !!!

    You can't argue with FREE !

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Small proportion of non-infringing..

    I expect that the 1% was mostly the 700MB text files presumably uploaded by MPAA lackies which castigate the downloading of copyright material.

    When questioning the % of fakes you should always realise that the comically included hard core porn pretending to be the latest Disney childrens animation or Snow White pretending to be porn etc. is often still copyright and only the identity is a fake.

    I never really understood why anybody would use P2P given how easy it is to get your IP logged or end up with spoofed material. Anybody trusting downloaded software via torrents is certainly risking a nasty dose of malware.

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