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BitTorrent’s Mainstream Moves Put Pirate Bay in Development Mode

With BitTorrent Inc. cozying up to mainstream entertainment companies, TPB founders said they are seeking a new file-sharing software solution, just in case.
BitTorrent’s Mainstream Moves Put Pirate Bay in Development Mode
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Nov 9, 2007 5:00 AM PST    Text size: 
SAN FRANCISCO — A popular torrent site that has been the subject of much discussion between adult webmasters and affiliate program operators may soon find itself looking for a new software back end, according to media reports.

Concerned that deals struck by BitTorrent Inc. with mainstream entertainment production studios could be a harbinger of more restrictive use protocols to come from the peer-assisted content delivery platform, The Pirate Bay is out to develop a new software standard for peer-to-peer sharing.

BitTorrent’s software has been an ideal match for TPB’s anything-goes P2P orientation, but recent deals made with the likes of 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, SpikeTV and MTV Networks have Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde worrying that BitTorrent could adopt a more staunchly anti-piracy posture in the future.

Should BitTorrent begin adopting features designed to discourage the trading of pirated materials, Sunde said Pirate Bay wants to be ready.

“If they go and do something stupid, it will affect a lot of people,” Sunde said this week, according to Reuters. Sunde said that The Pirate Bay receives 1.5 million unique visitors on an average day.

Sunde said that he is shooting for having an initial version of the new sharing software ready for distribution early next year. Pirate Bay has asked for developers to contribute their efforts at the website SecureP2P.com.

Ashwin Navin, president and co-founder of BitTorrent, said that his company will not be sorry to see Pirate Bay turn elsewhere for a software solution.

“We are not really disappointed here,” Navin said. “The pirate community has never paid us a dime.”

Navin estimated that 150 million people use BitTorrent technology, and said that an Internet distribution service launched by his company last month will expand its user base to approximately 1 billion people over the next 18 to 24 months.

The change in direction for BitTorrent took root in earnest last year, when the company announced new deals with several major film and TV companies, acquiring distribution rights to some of the most popular TV shows and movies in recent history along the way.

Pirate Bay, on the other hand, has been the target of an increasingly vigorous effort on the part of the Motion Picture Association of America and others to shut down the site. Pirate Bay was down briefly last year, after Swedish authorities seized its servers. The site was back up in less than a week, though, and its servers have since been relocated to undisclosed locations.

“Even we don't know where they are,” Sunde said of the servers. “They are spread across Europe.”

Sunde said Pirate Bay is trying to raise money to purchase an island where it could create its own nation-state and declare piracy legal. The group has raised approximately $20,000 thus far, according to Sunde.

Pirate Bay’s three founders already are facing criminal piracy charges, but Sunde said he isn’t concerned about the pending charges, because under Swedish law the worst punishment they face if found guilty is a $300 fine.

“I don’t believe what we are doing is a crime,” Sunde said. “It is a stupid game.”

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