In the eyes of Big Content, BitTorrent has become synonymous with piracy, to the point where Google has been forced to block this keyword from its search recommendation services.
So it's not often there's a positive story about BitTorrent, which at its core, is nothing more than just a file transfer protocol, the same as FTP or HTTP, but a much more efficient one at that. Perhaps as a way to rehabilitate the image of BitTorrent, or just an easy way to share a whole bunch of files with a whole bunch of people without significantly taxing existing server capabilities, the Internet Archive has just put all of its books, movies, music and audio files into the P2P cloud.
The Internet Archive is a non-profit organisation whose main purpose is to make available all public domain materials, for research, entertainment and preservation. With millions of files being made available, and just as many people trying to download them, an enormous amount of resources are needed to keep the site going.
But thanks to the efficiency of BitTorrent, where people who download can share what they have already downloaded with other users, this can greatly reduce the server load, and may even allow users to download at a faster rate.
"BitTorrent is now the fastest way to download items from the Archive, because the BitTorrent client downloads simultaneously from two different Archive servers located in two different datacenters, and from other Archive users who have downloaded these torrents already," Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle told TorrentFreak.
This means that the Internet Archive can let thousands of people download the Blu-ray rip version of George A. Romero's 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead - the whole 16GB of it - without their servers becoming zombified. No surprise then that this file is, at the time of writing, the most popular download on Internet Archive's BitTorrent network.
With 1.4 million Torrents and growing, IA's BitTorrent experiment may finally show what the protocol is capable of, away from the murky world of piracy.
You can search Internet Archive's BitTorrent archive by going to this page.