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    It’s still kind of mind-blowing that this one protocol, thought up by one guy was (is?) good for a quarter of all internet traffic: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/10/peek-inside-internets-favorite-file-sharing-network

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      You mean, the second-highest figure after HTTP, the other protocol thought up by one guy? ;)

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        Tim Berners-Lee and his team at CERN are credited with inventing the original HTTP

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          Yes! :) It’s wild.

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            Graphics are big.

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          Really nice article! I’ve always been interested of BitTorrent and implementing new BT servers. :)

          Btw: I noticed that the website works a bit wonky on Ios with safari. If I searched “DHT”, it broke the site layout by scrolling it off the screen.

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            Really nice article, very complete!

            What library did you use to generate those svgs of the people (with mostly purple tones)? I remember seeing a release announcement for it a while ago but I forgot to save it.

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              It still makes me sad to think about the fact that we never managed to figure out how to make BitTorrent work while respecting intellectual property. There is this amazing technology that enables us to share a vast amount of data in a wonderfully efficient way. Still, using it you’re most likely doing something that is considered illegal in your country.

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                [..] to make BitTorrent work while respecting intellectual property.

                BitTorrent optimises sharing; intellectual property, as I understand it is mostly used, works as a stop-mechanism to sharing.

                Thus, to me, it seems they have conflicting interests.

                Of course it is a simplistic perspective on the subject.

                But every time I think about sharing and intellectual property in digital age, I think about libraries and books, and how the standard copyright notice

                No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher […]

                and libraries co-exist. (Highlight on distributed is mine.)

                Of course it is simply a mental exercise and I have no solution to it.

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                  How do you define “respecting intellectual property”? Users get to decide whether to download a torrent and participate in the swarm. If it’s illegal, then they are breaking the law. If I use a kitchen knife to cut roast beef, that’s legal. If I use a kitchen knife to cut roast rhino, that’s likely illegal. It’s not the knife maker’s responsibility to ensure that I’m not using the knife to cut endangered species.

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                    It’s definitely illegal to kill people with that knife, in case you needed a clearly illegal act.

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                    There is this amazing technology that enables us to share a vast amount of data in a wonderfully efficient way. Still, using it you’re most likely doing something that is considered illegal in your country.

                    Perhaps it is the laws that are at fault, and not the technology. Intellectual Property is predicated on the zero-sum logic of property–for you to have something, I must lose it. Clearly that is not the case with information.

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                      Clearly that is not the case with information.

                      Perhaps, but people don’t create information for free. There is an expectation that you will get reimbursed in some way, and if you don’t then you are indeed operating at a loss. After all you could have done something else with your time.

                      Edit; and that doesn’t include the patent argument where an inventor would have indeed lost something, business, if people enroach on the intellectual property at the core of that business.

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                        Neither of those statements are accurate, right–you and I are both (to the best of my knowledge) creating works here without getting paid. People strumming to themselves on guitars and singing madeup songs while working aren’t getting paid. The idea that all creation is motivated by economic activity seems easy to disprove.

                        The patent thing isn’t about losing something due to encroachment. It’s about saying “Hey, we’ll give you a limited monopoly to give you even more value in the market, in order to incentivize discovery of new techniques and then to explicitly force you to share that intellectual property by having public record of how you did what you did.” That second part is critical, and one very much lost in modern software and legalese.

                        Also, real talk: the American publishing industry was founded on copyright infringement. The spread of semiconductor techniques and thus the information age was predicated on the sharing of information via folks like the Traitorous Eight and so forth. The bootstrapping of the Chinese tech manufacturing in places like Shenzhen is massively driven by infringement on IP.

                        Enforcement of IP is just about rent seeking, and not societal good. Anyways, happy to continue in DMs–this is off-topic for the site. :)

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                      never managed to figure out how to make BitTorrent work while respecting intellectual property

                      You could say the same thing about any protocol. HTTP, FTP, NNTP, Email, etc.

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                        Yeah, but of those two, which is the important one?

                        There are several problems. One big problem is that copyright’s terms are for years, but it only takes a few days for information to be broadcast to all target markets. The biggest Hollywood films, for example, are released near-simultaneously globally and make most of their sales within the first two weeks. Books once took years to print in serious quantity, but now take months to print and weeks to ship. Music can be recorded in a weekend and be streamable within a week. Youtube and Twitch permit global publication within under a minute of recording.

                        Consider a world where copyright is extremely short, due to the rapid speed at which information can be broadcasted. In such a world, a copyright holder might release their artwork over BitTorrent. In order to do this, they would sell tickets which each have a unique private tracker URL. Then, when the artwork is published, the ticket-holders are sent torrent metadata and can download their own private copies of the artwork hours or even possibly days ahead of non-paying viewers.

                        Another big problem is that it’s not at all clear whether information, in the information-theoretic sense, is a medium through which expressive works can be created; that is, it’s not clear whether bits qualify for copyright. Certainly, all around the world, legal systems have assumed that bits are a medium. But perhaps bits have no color. Perhaps homomorphic encryption implies that color is unmeasurable. It is well-accepted even to legal scholars that abstract systems and mathematics aren’t patentable, although the application of this to computers clearly shows that the legal folks involved don’t understand information theory well enough.

                        I wonder why this makes you sad. As a former musician, I know that there is no way to train a modern musician, or any other modern artist, without heavy amounts of copyright infringement. Copying pages at the library, copying CDs for practice, taking photos of sculptures and paintings, examining architectural blueprints of real buildings. The system simultaneously expects us to be well-cultured, and to not own our culture. I suggest that, of those two, the former is important and the latter is yet another attempt to coerce and control people via subversion of the public domain.

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                          I really like the idea of selling tickets for private tracker URLs. This would make decentralized distribution possible while making sure that content creators get their revenue.

                          Besides the hardly measurable cultural loss due to restrictive copyright law, I think what this also comes down to is waste of resources. I wonder how much money could be saved by switching to a decentralized infrastructure when distributing files on the internet.

                          Keep in mind all those judges, laywers and prosecutors whose resources are bound in disputes concerning copyright. If there were better ways of regulating intellectual property, I believe that many economies could benefit from this.