Bit Torrent (and other p2p applications) transfer files by splitting them up into smaller chunks and sending each chunk independently from the rest. Chances you receive chunks for a given file from many different seeders.
It suddenly occurred to me – as a seeder, if you don’t – or can’t — transfer all of those chunks, can you still be held liable for transferring a copyrighted work?
After all, unless you transfer 100% of the ‘chunks’, the file is probably useless. If you’ve uploaded less that 100% of the file, have you actually transferred a copyright work, or just a load of garbled data?
In cases where people have been accused or convicted of transferring copyrighted works, I wonder whether it was ever established that they transferred the whole file? After all it’s probably good enough to say that they could have done – they were offering all of the file for download.
So here’s my suggestion: Bit Torrent clients should ensure that at least one ‘chunk’ of each file you share cannot be uploaded. Clearly this needs to be a randomly chosen chunk so that different seeds offering the same file withhold a different chunk (and thereby not adversely affecting the integrity of the swarm).
By proving you’re a running software that will never offer 100% of the file, I wonder whether you can be still be accused of sharing copyrighted works, or at the very least subject to far less serious accusations and potential consequences?
I might ask my legal friend Ria for her thoughts…