Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent, and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have agreed on a deal where copyright protected content will not be linked to on the www.bittorrent.com website. The site will no longer host links to illegal content from the seven major studios of the MPAA.
The BitTorrent protocol was invented just a few years ago by Bram Cohen and since then has become one of the most popular peer-to-peer programs in existence. According to some estimates, BitTorrent traffic accounts for an astounding 35 percent of all Internet traffic. Some universities and ISPs have even banned the protocol.
Unlike traditional downloads where many people download from one server, BitTorrent decentralizes downloads by making everyone share the burden of uploading. Files are downloaded as a number of small chunks which are then dished out to other computers. Transfers start off slowly, but speed up tremendously over a few minutes.
Both software pirates and legitimate users have used the BitTorrent protocol to distribute files. Today, podcasts from small artists and home-videos from budding directors are being distributed over the network. BitTorrent’s distributed nature can help content providers speed delivery and save money on bandwidth costs. In fact, Cohen worked briefly for Valve and his BitTorrent served as the inspiration of Valve’s Steam network, which distributes games and games updates to players.
Even though Cohen agreed to take down links to illegal files, BitTorrent.com is not the only site that torrent files can be searched for. There are several dozen torrent search engines, many outside of the country, that hold tens of thousands of links to legal and "illegal" files. In addition, entire torrent trading channels are hosted on IRC and other Internet chat channels.