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Study: 100 Responsible for 75% of BitTorrent Downloads


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Researchers claim that minus "profit-driven top publishers" the amount of content shared would be reduced by as much as 40%, and that their removal by anti-piracy actions could significantly affect the popularity of BitTorrent sites as well as the "whole BitTorrent ecosystem."

Researchers at Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain examined the uploaders of more than 55,000 torrents on Mininova and The Pirate Bay to determine of their behavior was "altruistic" or "profit-driven."

The report, "Is Content Publishing in BitTorrent Altruistic or Profit-Driven," found that a small fraction of uploaders is responsible for 67% of the published content and 75% of the downloads. The data it collected on published content involved more than 35mln IP addresses.

"Furthermore," reads the report,"most of these major publishers dedicate their resources for publishing content and consume few or no published content by others, i.e. their level of content publication and consumption is very imbalanced. In addition to allocating a significant amount of resources for publishing content, these users often publish copyrighted material, which has legal implications for them. These observations raise the following question: what are the main incentives of (major) content publishers in BitTorrent?"

They found that content publishers could be generally divided into two groups: fake publishers and top publishers. They define the former as either anti-P2P organization or malicious users, and peg them at 30% of uploaded content and 25% of downloads. The latter contains an unspecified portion of "profit-driven top publishers" that upload content in order to advertise their webs site, and peg them similarly at 30% of uploaded content, but a much greater 40% of downloads.


Therefore, the researchers surmise, if the "profit-driven top publishers" lost their financial incentives to publish copyrighted material then BitTorrent trackers sites like The Pirate Bay, as well as the entire "BitTorrent ecosystem," could be affected.

"Our evidence suggests that these publishers have financial incentives for posting these contents on BitTorrent portals," continues the study. "The removal of these financial-driven publishers (e.g. by antipiracy actions) may significantly affect the popularity of these portals as well as the whole BitTorrent ecosystem. If this happens, will BitTorrent survive as the most popular file-sharing application without these publishers?"

It's a good question. File-sharing obviously requires users to share files, and minus these "profit-driven top publishers" the amount of content shared would apparently be reduced by as much as 40%. If that happens it's hard to predict what would happen, but my guess is that many would find it hard to give up BitTorrent's uber fast download speeds, especially where HD video is concerned, and make a stab at gaining access to one of the thousands of private BitTorrent trackers that exist.

As a side note, if you're wondering what the top types of fake torrent files are it's listed in the graph below. Video is by far the most popular with audio making up the fewest.


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