BitTorrent Pulls Down The Jolly Roger

Peer-to-peer darling BitTorrent is pulling down its Skull and Crossbones flag and hanging out a shingle for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.

Starting this summer, users will be able to buy Warner Bros. movies and TV shows using the BitTorrent distribution and search platform.

BitTorrent technology shortens download times by creating a network between users who have downloaded or are downloading the file. BitTorrent breaks the file into small pieces so even a user who only has only downloaded a few pieces of the file is able to immediately offer those pieces back for upload, reducing bandwidth constraints across the network.

The new service will initially feature more than 200 Warner Bros. new releases, catalog selections, and television series. Availability will coincide with DVD releases.

Although the BitTorrent technology is associated with movie piracy because of its ability to move large file downloads and distribute software, BitTorrent the company is increasingly moving away from the dark side of the forces that fuel digital piracy.

Last fall, for example, BitTorrent struck a deal with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to take links of pirated MPAA content off its own BitTorrent search engine.

In April 2005, President Bush signed a law setting criminal penalties of up to 10 years for distributing pre-release movies and music.

Then, in May, the Department of Justice raided Elite Torrents, a peer-to-peer network, for its alleged complicity in the pirating of the movie “Star Wars: Episode III.”

Legitimized by law and action, the MPAA started to sue. And win. In one statement, the MPAA claimed that 90 percent of sites sued were eventually shut down.

Now that BitTorrent has removed copyrighted material from its search engine, it is slated to begin selling Warner Bros. movies and titles such as “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride,” and “Dukes of Hazzard,” content that remains widely —- if illegally -— available across the Internet. —

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