Netflix A ‘Piracy Killer’? BitTorrent Takes Issue

Netflix as “piracy killer” may make sense on the surface, but BitTorrent has taken exception to some implications from comments made by company representatives last week connecting BitTorrent with piracy.

The comments came in a Stuff interview with Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. When asked what the company was doing to combat Internet piracy, Sarandos had this to say.

“One of the things is we get ISPs to publicize their connection speeds — and when we launch in a territory the BitTorrent traffic drops as the Netflix traffic grows.”

Responding to Sarandos, BitTorrent representative Matt Mason issued a blog post earlier this week stating that his company was not “a synonym for Internet piracy.”

Mason specifically pointed out that BitTorrent “was designed to move data.”

“It was not designed for piracy.” He then enumerated the legitimate uses of the service.

“It’s what the Internet’s core platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, use for code deployment. It’s what leading gaming brands, including Blizzard and Eve Online, use for updates. It’s what genetic researchers use to move human genome sequences. And it’s relied on by the scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider,” Mason wrote. “Any company moving large data sets uses BitTorrent. Any person trying to preserve terabytes of data uses BitTorrent. They are not Internet pirates.”

Mason also took exception to the main thrust of Sarandos’ comments: that BitTorrent traffic drops whenever and wherever Netflix is introduced into a new market, categorizing the claim as “not true.”

However, he did agree with Sarandos’ declaration that better options reduce the practice of Internet piracy.

“So I think people do want a great experience and they want access — people are mostly honest,” Sarandos said. “The best way to combat piracy isn’t legislatively or criminally but by giving good options. One of the side effects of growth of content is an expectation to have access to it. You can’t use the Internet as a marketing vehicle and then not as a delivery vehicle.”

(Yeah, we can see how they might agree on that one.)

Not surprisingly for anyone familiar with the Internet, there has been greater support as of late that piracy isn’t as evil as movie studio execs like Harvey Weinstein would have you to believe.

Aside from a recent study that indicated the practice actually helped independent films, an HBO executive called illegal downloads “a compliment” and admitted that it hadn’t hurt sales for Game of Thrones in spite of the show being the most pirated series of 2012.

Do you think Sarandos meant to condemn BitTorrent with his Netflix piracy killer claim or did he just over-generalize?

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