Saturday, July 24, 2010

Only 0.3% of files on BitTorrent confirmed to be legal;, 7/23/10

Jacqui Cheng,; Only 0.3% of files on BitTorrent confirmed to be legal:

"The large majority of content found on BitTorrent is illegal, a new study out of the University of Ballarat in Australia has confirmed. Researchers from the university's Internet Commerce Security Laboratory scraped torrents from 23 trackers and looked up the content to determine whether the file was confirmed to be copyrighted. They found that 89 percent of the files they sampled were confirmed to be illegally shared, and most of the remaining ambiguous 11 percent was likely to be infringing.

The total sample consisted of 1,000 torrent files—a random selection from the most active seeded files on the trackers they used. Each file was manually checked to see whether it was being legally distributed. Only three cases—0.3 percent of the files—were determined to be definitely not infringing, while 890 files were confirmed to be illegal.

Additionally, 16 files were of ambiguous origin and 91 files were pornographic, which were unclear due to their oft-mislabeled nature. "[M]any files were tagged as amateur (suggesting no copyright infringement) but further inspection revealed that they were in fact infringing," wrote the researchers.

Basically, the 89 percent is a baseline number when it came to infringing files, and the three most shared categories were movies, music, and TV shows—among those categories, there were zero legal files being shared. Assuming all 16 files of ambiguous legality were in fact legal, the researchers said that there was an overall figure of 97.9 percent infringing content being distributed on BitTorrent.

This report echoes similar results out of Princeton that were published earlier this year. Though the top categories were slightly different—Princeton found that movies and TV were the most popular, while music fell behind games/software, pornography, and unclassifiable files—that study found that all of the movie, TV, and music content being shared was indeed infringing. Overall, Princeton said that 99 percent of the content on BitTorrent was illegal.

The University of Ballarat said that just four percent of torrents were responsible for 80 percent of the seed population. And, according to the list of the top 10 most seeded files, they were all Hollywood films (save for Lady Gaga's album, The Fame Monster, at number 7)—it's clear that Linux distros weren't exactly dominating the charts here. Copyright holders have one consolation, however: P2P users seem to buy more content than the average person, so there's still some chance of earning those users' money after all."

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