Torrent downloads have been a supposed nightmare for the entertainment industry for years, but you might be surprised to know that in 2013, the most popular bit torrent was actually legal.
When most people think of bit torrents, they think of piracy and the millions of dollars that Hollywood and the music industry claim to be losing every year due to online pirates. Some of the biggest victims are TV shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, which will cost a few dollars a month for cable access just to watch. Others include DVD rips of recent film releases, MP3 albums, and video games probably hacked from legal Steam downloads. The initial file may have been legitimate, but there is always someone who will take the material and make it available online for would-be pirates.
The Inquisitr has reported before that according to a school in the UK, illegal torrent downloads actually help the entertainment industry more than the industry claims. Online piracy is still a crime however, and punishable with heavy fines and even jail time, and we are not advocating it.
Alternative artist Moby has seen positive results from the release of his eleventh album Innocents through bit torrents, so it doesn’t bother him that the album is being downloaded for free. In fact, the album is the most downloaded file of 2013, beating out even the final episode of Breaking Bad.
@ischafer I buy it because they’re talking about a single torrent. If you added up all the GoT torrents they’d leave Moby et al in the dust.
— Robert i Lubow (@HeyThereKiller) January 17, 2014
Could the entertainment industry learn from this and convince the FBI that such practices can actually be a positive? It probably won’t happen, but Moby is proving that the controversial way he’s selling his latest album actually works well.
Other artists have promoted their work the same way, using a system called the Bundle program which sits in most bit torrent clients and lures you to click on it and download a free album. While you’re downloading what is probably illegal, there is an ad right there for something free, and Moby took advantage of it.
Over 400,000 people were added to Moby’s email list, and 130,000 clicked through to the iTunes store, where they have the opportunity to legitimately buy the rest of his catalog. Moby’s legitimate sales may not have been a fantastic turnaround considering the 8.9 million people downloading his album for free, but it helped generate interest for online pirates who might actually turn into legal consumers.
— Federica (@Fescio) December 2, 2013
Some initiates of torrent downloads are simply skeptical consumers who want to see if your material is worth buying. If the music or movie is good enough, some of those pirates will actually turn around and buy a hard copy.
Perhaps Hollywood and the music industry will take more notice of the potential increase to various fan bases by advertising free downloads to people who are already stealing their material. If torrent downloads worked for Moby, it could work for others as well.