If you’re using BitTorrent to download movies and music and whatever, don’t befriend Rockwell

Rockwell has enough people watching him and sends his regards. According to a recent study, almost all downloads from BitTorrent sites are being monitored, some within just a few hours of making a connection. A team from Birmingham University in the U.K. ran the numbers. The BBC writes:

The three-year research was carried out by a team of computer scientists who developed software that acted like a BitTorrent file-sharing client and logged all the connections made to it.
BitTorrent is a method of obtaining files by downloading from many users at the same time.
The logs revealed that monitoring did not distinguish between hardcore illegal downloaders and those new to it.

A group of roughly 10 companies kept popping up as monitors, a few of which were affiliated with copyright infringement. So that makes sense, but the others? They were unknown firms - PacMen and Ms. PacMen, if you will - gobbling up the pellets and power pellets of data you scatter when uploading or downloading content via BitTorrent. They’re hoping that someday they can cash in (gobble up a blue ghost) on all the information getting scooped up in their nets. But you’re safe, for now. Lead researcher Dr. Tim Chothia spoke with the BBC:

"All the monitors observed during the study would connect to file-sharers and verify that they were running the BitTorrent software, but they would not actually collect any of the files being shared," he said.
"It is questionable whether the monitors observed would actually have evidence of file-sharing that would stand up in court," he added.

So you probably won’t go to jail for that “free” copy of an iPhone-ripped version of Dark Knight Rises, but really, was being the first to own a shaky, sometimes out of focus version of the latest Batman movie worth giving up your digital bits?

About the author

Marc Sanchez is the technical director and associate producer for Marketplace Tech Report where he is responsible for shaping the sound of the show.
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