A Torrent Of Evil?

Those who have known me for long enough know that I used to be involved in the Mac gaming journalist market. For those of you who have only known me a short while, this will likely evoke a chuckle – “YOU MEAN THERE ARE SITES THAT TALK ABOUT THE TWO GAMES THAT ARE ON THE MAC? HAHAHA”, or something similar. The fact is, there are a handful of sites that cover Mac gaming on a regular basis, and I’ve met and keep in frequent contact with most of the people in the industry I’ve met. Certainly doesn’t hurt that I work for a gaming company now, anyhow.
Last night, Corey brought a forum post over at InsideMacGames to my attention. The thread started as a discussion of the NeverWinterNights Tech Demo, which was just released yesterday, but somehow spiraled out of control into a strange flamewar about BitTorrent.
I think by now, everyone has at least heard of BitTorrent, which is a good sign for the mindshare of any P2P app. If you haven’t, BitTorrent was designed to help alleviate the issue of limited bandwidth for widespread distribution. By turning everyone who downloads into a host capable of sending the file to other people, files can be distributed with what could be called “zippy” speeds. There are more subtleties than this (it does let you resume downloads; a torrent file will “die” if a “seeder” with the complete file decides to stop sending), but the key point to note is that there is no central database with a listing of all files available; you have to actually find a torrent file.
Unsurprisingly, like the primary use for most things on the internet, this has been used for questionable content. Television shows, fan-subbed anime, music CDs, porn, and even the occasional piece of software show up there. But there have also been some extremely legitimate uses, such as the distribution of RedHat 9 ISOs, and the mirroring of other excessively large – but legal – files (Animatrix trailers, etc).
Tuncer Deniz, owner/head editor/etc of InsideMacGames, has a problem with the NWN Tech Demo being torrented for seemingly three reasons:
One, the people who torrented it pulled it off his FTP server before it was supposed to be available. One has to wonder why it was on the public FTP server at all if it wasn’t supposed to be available yet. One also has to wonder why it’s such a big deal that it was available a few hours earlier. Do gaming files need time to ripen?
Two, it’s being distributed on a “pirate site”. Here we have Tuncer confusing the medium – a well designed file transfer protocol – with the message. If we’re complaining that BitTorrent is a pirate site, and that it’s going to be a “gateway” into people pirating other things, why don’t we complain that IMG has servers that run FTP, a server type notorious for distributing pirated items? Why don’t we complain about his forums being run on phpBB, which are also used to run some surely illegal forums?
There’s plenty of a market for a legitimate torrent tracker. Doesn’t the fact that people piggyback legitimate files (the E3 trailer of Halflife 2, or said NWN Tech Demo) seem to imply that maybe there’s some good here?
Three, he complains that it doesn’t “speak well” of the Mac gaming community. This is horseshit. Bioware has delayed NWN so much that I’m almost ready to start calling it DNF. You think that the increased distribution of their demo is really going to be looked on in a negative way?
So why am I blogging about this, you might think. Well, between this ridiculousness, Bill O’Reilly deciding the Internet needs to get shut down because people are echoing what’s been said in a newspaper, and Orin Hatch wanting to destroy ‘pirate’ PCs, I can only reach one conclusion.
May this week forever be known as “Refuse To Understand The Internet Week”.