Poor BitTorrent. After working so hard over the years to brand itself as as media hub rather than a source for pirated content, it’s still dealing with the aftermath of what the service became known for. Take for example HBO’s Game of Thrones which was recently announced as (yet again) the most pirated show of the television season. Things seem to have gotten such a bad rep that the BitTorrent team felt the need to step forward and make things clear: Just because they created the tech doesn’t mean that they’re condoning or participating in piracy themselves.
In a post on the company blog entitled “The Real King of BitTorrent,” BitTorrent’s VP of Marketing Matt Mason took pains to distance BitTorrent the company from the reputation that surrounds the Torrent technology. “The idea of a ‘BitTorrent Piracy Record’ is a complete fabrication,” he wrote, adding that “there’s actually no such thing as a ‘BitTorrent piracy record’… because piracy happens outside the BitTorrent ecosystem.” It’s the same sentiment that was echoed when we last spoke to Mason at SXSW 2013, indicating that the company’s reputation will take more than a few months to overcome.
“We don’t host infringing content. We don’t point to it. It’s literally impossible to ‘illegally download something on BitTorrent,'” Mason wrote. “To pirate stuff, you need more than a protocol. You need search, a pirate content site, and a content manager. We offer none of those things. If you’re using BitTorrent for piracy, you’re doing it wrong.”
Mason continued that the BitTorrent company, brand, and technology were “built for innovation.” He explains, “We don’t endorse piracy [or] tally up illegal downloads and crown pirate-kings. But these kinds of stories give us the opportunity to tell the truth about what’s going on inside BitTorrent.”
That refers to the work that BitTorrent (the company) has been doing in recent months to build a better relationship with content creators, partnering with musicians and moviemakers to reposition itself as a content distribution format. These services offer creators more control over their work, from audience limitations to access fees (whether financially or other forms, such as information). “We’ve built a legit media ecosystem designed to close the gap between creators and fans,” Mason said. “In 2012 alone, titles from this collection have been downloaded over 152 million times.”
Amongst the legal, official downloaded content, Mason points to Epic Meal Time, a show that’s been downloaded 8,626,987 times at time of writing. As he points out, “that’s nearly double the claimed downloads of the Game of Thrones finale.”
Nonetheless, BitTorrent as a brand remains paired with piracy in many people’s minds – including, unfortunately, many content creators. It remains to be seen whether any of the company’s current outreach efforts will be enough to change those people’s minds. Still, it doesn’t hurt for BT to keep trying – even if the idea of “torrenting” has become an unofficial Internet jargon for pirating.