Drop in BitTorrent traffic restores faith in humanity ever so briefly

November 15, 2013

Bittorrent traffic downFor a long time, I felt like the only person in the world who actually paid to consume art and media, rather than getting it for free from piracy websites. I mean, what a chump I was for actually thinking artists should get paid for their work!

But maybe I’m like other Millenials in that I need to be told I’m not so special.

The BBC recently reported that for the first time in the 10 years in which reliable measurements have been taken, traffic from U.S. users on BitTorrent, one of the most popular illegal file-sharing sites on the Internet, has declined.

Over the past six months, traffic from U.S. Internet users to BitTorrent dropped 7 percent to reach 20 percent.

Is that a fluke? Like the Internet’s version of The Bloop or something?

Maybe, but the same study the BBC was covering also found that traffic on legitimate streaming sites like YouTube and Netflix increased like whoa (to use the technical term) over the same period. That would suggest that as fewer people use BitTorrent, more use legal media outlets.

Now, one possible reason for this shift is that BitTorrent is pretty well-known to law enforcement agencies by now, so some users are shifting to “dark nets” and other more sophisticated ways of illegally distributing files,

But people seem to acknowledge that the drop in traffic to BitTorrent is also happening because the television and film industries have figured how to offer users a legitimate, legal alternative, as well as palatable pricing models.

This reminds me of what happened to Kazaa and LimeWire after iTunes opened up its metaphorical shop. People don’t want to steal. If you make it possible for people to buy what they want, when they want, in the format they want and price it accordingly, they’ll stop stealing and buy it.