Tech by VICE

Music Industry Begs BitTorrent to Fight Piracy

Battle of the brands.

by Nicholas Deleon
Aug 5 2015, 1:42pm

Photo: nrkbeta/Flickr

Despite the proliferation of legal music sources like Spotify and Apple Music, record labels are still making a fuss over online piracy.

In a newly leaked letter, the head of the Recording Industry Association of America's anti-piracy efforts, Brad Buckles, recently asked BitTorrent, Inc. to "take meaningful steps" to prevent "widespread [copyright] infringement." (The letter itself is dated July 31, but was not made public until today by way of TorrentFreak.) According to the RIAA, BitTorrent, Inc., the San Francisco company that makes the popular BitTorrent client uTorrent, isn't "living up" to the standards set by Matt Mason, its former chief content officer, who claimed that users using the app for piracy are "doing it wrong."

BitTorrent (the company) has in recent years made a concerted effort to distinguish itself from BitTorrent (the protocol), launching a number of initiatives, including file syncing software and "bundles" of legal music and movies, to diversify beyond file sharing. Despite these efforts, the RIAA still believes BitTorrent (the company) is synonymous with piracy, citing studies showing that the company's apps are responsible for 75 percent of torrent-based copyright infringements.

While BitTorrent has not yet commented on the RIAA's letter, Mason, the company's former chief content officer, tweeted in support of his former company's efforts, saying that "the protocol is not the problem."

"The way to beat piracy is by legitimizing or copying the pirates," Mason told Motherboard in a 2013 interview. "Piracy isn't so popular because people like to steal—it's because it provides a better service model."