Legitimate p2p examples?
November 28, 2006 7:32 AM   Subscribe

I need compelling examples of legitimate/legal uses of bittorrent or other p2p applications/protocols.

I'm an I.T. guy on a committee that advises a university Chancellor on tech matters. I'm disturbed by the university's bowing to pressure by the RIAA and the responses being taken. We already have a Packeteer in place that (while not banning it) "prioritizes" p2p traffic into such a narrow amount of bandwidth as to make it all but unusable. Now the university is looking into Audible Magic's CopySense appliance/application. Besides the fact that such things are easily defeated by encrypting the shared files (and are therefore a huge waste of university dollars) they also give the university the ability to completely shut off the functionality p2p programs (allegedly). It seems to me that this is wrong-headed — like making VCRs nonfunctional simply because they CAN (and are) used to make copies of copyrighted material.

It seems to me that the best way to make a case against this is to cite situations or cases for which bittorrent or other p2p applications or protocols are used legitimately. I'd appreciate some examples to cite.
posted by spock to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Various Linux distributions (White Hat, Ubuntu, etc.) are made accessible via BT mirrors.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:34 AM on November 28, 2006

The World of Warcraft Patch downloader (7 million subscribers) utilizes bittorrent.
posted by sophist at 7:39 AM on November 28, 2006

The Wikipedia CD is being distributed via bittorent.

"The CD comprises of over 2500 hand-picked educational articles aimed at helping schools enhance their curriculum and children learn."

That should help convince a learning institution. (Should...)
posted by Ookseer at 7:51 AM on November 28, 2006

posted by caddis at 7:55 AM on November 28, 2006

The Democracy Player uses bittorrent to transport some videocasts. I think. This is all "participatory culture," and should be the kind of thing a university would support.
posted by adamrice at 8:00 AM on November 28, 2006

This site claims to have torrents for Movies in the Public Domain. Legal Torrents is also exactly what it sounds like.

Here is a presentation on acedemic uses of bittorrent. I think playing up what the various university departments and researchers can do with bittorrent might be a good tactic for you.
posted by mmascolino at 8:00 AM on November 28, 2006

Any of the legal music bootleg sites (the ones that trade music of artists that allow it).
posted by inigo2 at 8:09 AM on November 28, 2006

The electric sheep screen-saver uses bit torrent to either download the initial flock of sheep, or (for the Windows client) to download sheep generally...

It doesn't sound compelling, but once it's up and running you'll be hypnotised :)
posted by Chunder at 8:13 AM on November 28, 2006

I'd suggest that you not present music/movie sharing, even legal forms, as I think the distinction between legal and illegal would be lost, and you'd just be underscoring that it's widely used for sharing movies/music, which you don't want.

Perhaps, if they're determined to block illegal P2P, convince them to just block the tracker sites (Suprnova or whatnot). That way they feel good, but aren't actually impeding much legal activity.
posted by fogster at 8:20 AM on November 28, 2006

It takes the weight off smaller websites that want to host larger files. Already mentioned the Linux distros, but for me the main use has been for (legal) music, short films and other media formats. Youtube takes some of the pressure off, but it's not always practical.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:26 AM on November 28, 2006

I believe NeoOffice. a fairly major office suite for the Mac, offers torrent downloads.
posted by ontic at 8:33 AM on November 28, 2006

OpenOffice is also available via P2P technology.
posted by mmascolino at 8:38 AM on November 28, 2006

from Wikipedia:
The film studio Warner Brothers Entertainment plans to distribute its films and TV shows using Bittorrent
Universal Studios also released footage of its film, "Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift" with BitTorrent.
posted by fvox13 at 8:50 AM on November 28, 2006

posted by gd779 at 8:55 AM on November 28, 2006

Steam (Valve's distribution software) transfers it's updates and games via bittorrentesque manner.
posted by eurasian at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2006

Amazon's S3 storage and data distribution service has a BitTorrent protocol interface for high-scale distribution.
posted by RichardP at 9:00 AM on November 28, 2006

Knoppix Linux LiveCDs as well as just about every other Linux distro on the face of the earth.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:06 AM on November 28, 2006

There are many bio/genome/phenome projects out there using bittorrent as a delivery mechanism for large-ish datasets. Depending on how research heavy your .edu is, you may actually be hurting your researchers by packetshaping.
posted by bhance at 9:29 AM on November 28, 2006

Project Gutenberg uses P2P as an option for downloading. I rarely grab large files, so I rarely use it, but it's there.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:17 AM on November 28, 2006

Dave Slusher's podcast, Evil Genius Chronicles, uses bit torrent.
posted by mike0221 at 11:41 AM on November 28, 2006

Mozilla distributes software using bittorrent.

Ibiblio distributes content via bittorrent.

TorrentCat is a legal torrent search engine.
posted by stringbean at 1:13 PM on November 28, 2006

I second inigo2's comment on legal music, but I'll specifically ad live music, taped by fans at concerts of bands that specifically allow it. Most of it is traded losslessly, 100% legally, and the files are so huge that p2p is the only good way to transfer it. This is not only a legitimate use for p2p, it's a legitimate need, if you think this content is valuable. It's definitely the only way to get it.

There are lots of sites with torrents that fit this description; one I can think off of the top of my head that's almost 100% legal is browntracker. (They may have some TV rips that are questionable, but I'm sure if they got C&D'd, they'd comply). Ween actually links to browntracker from their site, and thinks it's a great thing. Who knows if live music largely listened to by stoners is going to sway university administrators, but I think this counts.
posted by pinespree at 1:50 PM on November 28, 2006

librivox.org distributes public domain audio books, if you're looking for an academic use to show the university
posted by njb at 3:49 PM on November 28, 2006

there is a new indie movie out called "the corporation"
won bunch of sundance awards. It is been distributed by Bittorrent free and legally .

posted by radsqd at 8:45 PM on November 28, 2006

FYI, that "The Corporation" article no longer has the correct link (when you click it says "Unable to locate record for torrent") but if you go to the site it links to and search for the word corporation you will find it at two different size choices. Great movie!
posted by lorimer at 5:39 PM on November 29, 2006

I often use BitTorrent to transfer large files between computers, mainly because you can pause it and it has built-in error correction.
posted by archagon at 2:35 PM on April 19, 2007

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