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…
Surely distributing a part of a copyrighted file is just as illegal as distributing the whole thing? Otherwise I could distribute TV programs by just chopping the credit sequences off.
What if each chunk was not a continuous section of the file, but instead a series of small samples taken at regular intervals along the entire length of the file? So it would be impossible to play any part of the file without all of the chunks.
“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).”
So how would the first file be seeded? Unless you are talking about to each of your peers one chunk would be omitted, but in that case you really are uploading 100% (just to different parties… unless you consuder your uplink a party. In that case, you are uploading 100% to a single party).
Maybe you are talking about a file that’s already distributed, but since nessessaily they would have had to have been distributed sans the single chunk withhold, there’s a point of failure.
Or how about “generational decay”, as in the closer you are to the original seeder, the more complete your copy is. But then again, this would create trail to lead back to the original seeder.
Possibly a bigger legal loophole would be if bittorrent traffic was encrypted. Because any content you upload would have to be considered garbage (because its encrypted) or a violation. If its a violation, its a violation because there exists a transformation to convert the garbage into a copyrighted work. But then again, for any piece of text there exists a transformation to convert it into any other data. In fact, this post is just an encrypted version of a Metaliica song. You just don’t have the key. So in my opinion, either all traffic is a copyright violation or encrypted bit torrent traffic is safe. That is if you ignore the issue of intent. Oh well.
Surely the first few uploads would have to be complete, otherwise no-one except the owner will have the whole file.
Yes, the potential flaw in this plan is that the original seeder would have to upload all chunks.
However I would bet that less than 3% of Bit Torrent users have ever seended a file from scatch.
It would mean that for these individuals they wouldn’t benefit from any such protection, but the rest of the network — the majority of the network — would.
Like I said, it’s still an idea – one that needs a legal brain to go through it.
Just a thought – what if the number of chunks you sent was lower than the fair use limit? 😉
Bittorent is Illegeal. The loophole will not work because every chunk is part of a copyrighted work.
Act 843 Section 302 (a) of the Digital Rights Act proves this.
Anyway, have you heard of the hacked version of bittorent that lets you download with maximum speeds without needing to upload.
It is so freakin awesome!
(But I guess if everyone uses it, no one will be able to download anything)
Luckily very few people (including me) know where to get it.
If the authorities were all that bothered about it they would stop it wouldn’t they.
it is still illegal to transfer any part of a copyrighted work without explicit permission from the copyright holder.
Evens so, what about the downloaders? They would be in question without a doubt as they were receiving 100% from many sources.
That’s not a loophole, it’s a poor excuse that wouldn’t go far in a trial.
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