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RIAA Asks BitTorrent Inc to Help Combat Piracy, Hints at Filtering

Posted by: , 20:16 AEST, Mon August 17, 2015

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RIAA pens another letter, this time asking BitTorrent Inc, makers of the uTorrent client, to help stop BitTorrent piracy
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The RIAA has written a letter to BitTorrent Inc. CEO Eric Klinker, asking the company to do more to stop piracy.

BitTorrent Inc, not to be confused with the peer-to-peer, and public domain file transfer protocol BitTorrent, publishes the popular uTorrent client. The company itself invented and developed the BitTorrent protocol, but does not have any control over the files being shared via the protocol (much like how the inventors of the HTTP protocol does not control all web page content), many of which include infringing content.

But the RIAA argues that the uTorrent client, one of the most popular BitTorrent clients available, is responsible for 75% of the "over 1.6 million torrent based infringement of our members' works last year in the US". The RIAA letter, penned by the RIAA's VP for piracy Brad Buckles, also includes other statistics showing the massive level of piracy that occurs on BitTorrent networks.

BitTorrent Inc, however, has always maintained that the company has no control over what is being transferred over the protocol they invented back in 2001, but that there is no infringement occurring on the "BitTorrent ecosystem" they do have control over.

The RIAA concludes the letter with a list of verified hashes of BitTorrent downloads that includes infringing works owned by RIAA members, and mentions setting up a process to share hashes with BitTorrent Inc. This is possible a hint at the RIAA's wish for BitTorrent Inc to start filtering and blocking the sharing of certain files on its uTorrent client, perhaps opening a new battleline in the creative industry's pro-censorship anti-piracy war strategy. 

Responding to the letter, BitTorrent Inc spokesperson Christian Averill told Arstechnica that the RIAA are targeting the wrong people.

"They are barking up the wrong tree, as it seems they were with their approach to CBS last week," says Averill, referring to another letter written by the RIAA regarding YouTube and other video streaming ripping tools published on the CBS owned 

"There is a distinction between the BitTorrent protocol and piracy. We do not host, promote, or facilitate copyright infringing content and the protocol, which is in the public domain, is a legal technology," explained Averill.


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