January 10, 2006  ·  Lessig

Google_full.jpg Google_full.jpg Google_full.jpg Google_full.jpg Google_full.jpg Google_full.jpg

So the other thing I wanted to try with this presentation was bitTorrent distribution. As I said, I used Prodigem‘s hosted bitTorrent service. Prodigem seeds the file if there are not at least 3 other seeds out there.

In the first day, there was about 120445 MB of completed traffic. Prodigem had transmitted 908 MB. Thus, 99% of the cost of distributing this was born by the audience. (Thanks!)

Right now, more than 1600 copies have been distributed. There are about 90 peers open.

Thus the meaning of: BitTorrent is a free speech tool.

  • anonymous

    Consider uploading the videos to Google. Some people might find the Google Video interface more approachable than learning about and downloading a bittorrent client.

  • three blind mice

    BitTorrent is a free speech tool.

    this is like saying george bush is a good president because he (sometimes) wears a suit. please sir, let’s call a spade a spade. BitTorrent is a copyright infringement machine used, by some, for legal purposes.

  • http://featherston.blogspot.com Mitch Featherston

    I totally agree. Bittorrent is a critical technology.

  • anonymous

    Yeah, Google Video is a very good idea, especially for those of us who have BitTorrent blocked at work.

  • Lessig

    Hey, Shinano, I invited the anonymous and pseudonymous. I like them here (even if I’m sometimes irrationally stung by their comments). So please leave my guests be. I especially like (through rarely agree with) three blind mice. The mice ad lots to this space, and more to my thinking than I would ever admit.

    But 3bm: That’s not quite the right analogy. Wearing a suit is not a something that makes a President good. A better analogy is guns: p2p technology, like a gun, can be used for good (distribution consistent with copyright law; a cop defending against a killer), or bad (piracy; murder). Of course, the level of harm caused by each is radically different (no one has ever died from a p2p “crime”). Bizarrely, of course, it is political suicide to push for gun control legislation; normal to push for speech control legislation. I’m hoping those obsessed with Amendment 2 might focus a bit on Amendment 1.

  • http://www.iyne.org Riad

    I am downloading the presentation using the BitTorrent software (Mac OS X) and the torrent link you provided since yesterday.
    I have seen at most 4 peers and a lot of time I got none during a pretty long time. It doesn’t look like Prodigem will seed it if there is nobody else.
    I have no idea why it doesn’t match what you are reporting

  • poptones

    Torrents are useful and cool, but wouldn’t an mpeg posted to archive.org and a coral cache link also work quite well for those using old fashion operating systems (like windows) that don’t come with a torrent client?

    Torrents seem useful for “pop posts” but it’s very difficult to get decent speeds on anything that isn’t chart topping in popularity. Links die too fast on the net as it is, torrents often seem to be dated in hours.

  • three blind mice

    Wearing a suit is not a something that makes a President good.

    true enough. an armani might make bush look good, but he’d still be rotten to the core.

    A better analogy is guns: p2p technology, like a gun, can be used for good or bad. Of course, the level of harm caused by each is radically different (no one has ever died from a p2p “crime”).

    true again and indeed a better analogy, but bandwidth and transport costs are incomparable to the value of the content. death is a realtive term. a copyrighted file such as a movie “freely” available via BitTorrent is commercially dead.

    Bizarrely, of course, it is political suicide to push for gun control legislation; normal to push for speech control legislation. I’m hoping those obsessed with Amendment 2 might focus a bit on Amendment 1.

    c’mon professor. “speech control” as in censorship has nothing to do with copyright. as for political suicide… well, for americans, it is one constitutional principle versus another isn’t it? on this basis, copyright might even have the better claim being, as such, part of the original document. there can be no question that the “framers” had in their minds that the congress should have the power to grant copyrights (and patents.) copyright is as fundamental to the american experiment as the bi-cameral legislature.

    “free speech” was an afterthought – included in the Bill of Rights along with other controversial items on which the drafters of the original, ratified document could find no consensus.

    BOTH are important. balance between the two, dear professor, is all we have ever argued for.

  • poptones

    a copyrighted file such as a movie “freely” available via BitTorrent is commercially dead.

    Yeah, just look how those low quality p2p “screeners” killed the theatrical release of Narnia.

    Oh, wait…

    “speech control” as in censorship has nothing to do with copyright.

    Of course it does. Try enforcing your “copyright” against someone who posts your “obscene” artwork to the internet.

  • three blind mice

    Yeah, just look how those low quality p2p “screeners” killed the theatrical release of Narnia.

    sure, some people will still see films in the theatres even if it is available on line, but we figure that more people – who want to see a file – will see it in theatres if respect/fear of copyright keeps DVD quality files off the internets.

    Of course it does. Try enforcing your “copyright” against someone who posts your “obscene” artwork to the internet.

    poptones please. this issue is complicated enough without discussing copyright’s tangential role in censorship in the same breath as it’s main purpose: protecting the economic incentives that result in works of art and literature.

  • poptones

    sure, some people will still see films in the theatres even if it is available on line, but we figure that more people – who want to see a file – will see it in theatres if respect/fear of copyright keeps DVD quality files off the internets.

    May be valid, but it’s wholly debatable this is a “good thing” – and if it ain’t a good thing for society it ain’t worth defending.

    Why do you think movies attendance is down? Is it JUST because so many movies last year sucked? I doubt it – it’s because so many of them sucked AND everyone knew because so many had seen screeners before going. In other words, the movies were not worth the price of admission – they MAY have been worth two bucks to download but we’ll never know because hollywood refuses even acknowledge that market, much less “test” it. Rather than help drive a convenient and robust micropayment system that would enable anyone to press a button and send a buck somewhere just because doing that is the right thing to do or because they want to, they insist encryption is the only “fair” way of earning a living.

    They treat their audience like thieves, and their audience doesn’t let them down. They will never pull off an honest approach because they themselves are not honest, and so they doom themselves to an adversarial relationship.

    I give money as I can to people and orgs I feel deserve my money. Everyone I know does this. But everyone I know also resent whiny crybabies who demand of others those things they do not always deserve.

    this issue is complicated enough without discussing copyright’s tangential role in censorship in the same breath as it’s main purpose: protecting the economic incentives that result in works of art and literature.

    Tough. If we are going to defend copyright only when it is speech we agree with, then it serves an altogether different (and far less valuable) role than that which you have claimed motivated those founders to codify it in our constitution.

  • http://mayamoose.blogspot.com miss moose

    hey – just wanted to say thanks prof for the great slideshow. i love the medium.

    are you planning on being google’s lawyer?

  • three blind mice

    Rather than help drive a convenient and robust micropayment system that would enable anyone to press a button and send a buck somewhere just because doing that is the right thing to do or because they want to, they insist encryption is the only “fair” way of earning a living.

    poptones you have a very generous opinion of the nature of man which we do not share. no question it would be much more efficient, for example, if we could do away with tickets, “oyster cards,” and barriers on the underground – these things are just a hinder to the free flow of people and add unnecessary overhead to the cost of transportation – but experience has shown that (with the exception of germany and austria) the honor system doesn’t work. ticket barriers FORCE people who want to use the system to pay.

    DRM, encryption, etc. are not things IMPOSED on society, they are the things society makes necessary by its own nature. these are the tools that will FORCE people who want access to copyrighted content to pay.

    society accepts PIN codes, locks on doors, and vaults in bank, why is it so hard to accept the same in cyberspace?

  • poptones

    By our other conversations here you should know fully well that I do not hold the steretoypical “geek” view of DRM – that I heartily embrace the notion of secure systems procided with truly effective and ubiquitous DRM because of the many ways it might enable “the collective” to share and pool resources. However, you also know as well as I that the more likely scenario is “Hollywood” will use all its lobbying power to ensure just enough cracks are built into that system to ensure it only works for them or, at the very least, only works for “little people” who first pay some appropriate (and non negotiable) licensing fees to the bank of Burbank.

    if we could do away with tickets, “oyster cards,” and barriers on the underground – these things are just a hinder to the free flow of people and add unnecessary overhead to the cost of transportation

    Those all control access to limited resources. You cannot fit an infinite number of passengers on a train, in an auditorium, or even in a public park. Your analogy is no more appropriate or logical than that of those other braindead types who inisist on equating copying a CD someone legitimately purchased with stealing a Ford from their neighbor’s driveway.

    This new communications medium can make it every bit as easy to send a buck as to copy a CD. How would the greater of society, were they given the tools to easily and conveniently trade in micropayments on services, treat such capabilities? If I could send Neil Young a buck (or even a quarter) simply by voluntarily clicking a button as my “media appliance” played one of his songs, how might I use that capability? How might all of society? No one knows because said “owners” refuse to even attempt such services – and no government is going to encourage creation of such services because they fear such capabilities every bit as much as Hollywood… possibly more.

    TV shows regularly offer 900 numbers as a means for people to “vote” – and a great proportion of the public does so even though it is not in any way “anonymous,” it is a service that they must pay for themselves, and many even have blocked from their home phones.

    What are the implications of making a micropayment system ubiquitous and voluntary? Would groups of fans “compete” with one another as they attempted to drive one pop hit or the other to the top of these “charts?” Would artists offer incentives directly to their fans in exchange for micropayment “votes?” No one knows the many ways in which such a system might ultimately be used because it doesn’t exist – and “Hollywood” is terrified at the possibility it might actually work for the artists.

  • three blind mice

    Your analogy is no more appropriate or logical than that of those other braindead types who inisist on equating copying a CD someone legitimately purchased with stealing a Ford from their neighbor’s driveway.

    braindead? now be nice poptones, or we will be forced to bring out the comfy chair.

    it seems to us, that you do not understand the difference between an asset which is inexhaustible and an asset which non-rivalrous.

    a copyright owner’s competitive advantage arises from the fact that she exercises control over a song/film/painting/photo (i.e., an asset) that some other people are willing to pay money to listen to/watch/view. her supply is inexhaustible – she can sell as many copies as possible without ever running out. moreover her production costs are zero.

    but the asset is not nonrivalrous. if there are other sources for the SAME asset – widely available, at zero cost – the value of the copyright owner’s asset is diminished.

    so yes, it’s not at all like stealing a car, but for the artist the result is the same. as emimen so aptly put it, being ripped off like this is “dollars that switched wallets.”

    now where we come from stealing money is more or less on a par with stealing cheese, but maybe that’s just us mice.

  • poptones

    if there are other sources for the SAME asset – widely available, at zero cost – the value of the copyright owner’s asset is diminished.

    Irrelevant. I cannot download a cd – I can only download a representation of the music ON the CD. I cannot download a dvd – I can only download a representation (and in most cases, a very imperfect one) of the movie “contained” within that DVD package. There are many ways to add value to such a product – but doing so still does not mean everyone will find that value nor does it mean they are obligated to pay for those things in which they do not find value.

    I also cannot make much of a living selling my own feces. There will certainly be something of a market somewhere at some time, and I can find a few buyers if I look around and market my “manure” just right – but it’s far too easy for someone to make their OWN manure for me to earn much of a living selling mine.

    I am not equating all art with feces, I am simply making the point that markets are not guaranteed nor are they naturally fixed. Markets come and markets go and most attempts at imposing artificial “fixes” upon them ultimately backfire.

    Although a few do still exist outside vertinary clinics one doesn’t find many blacksmiths these days.

    Nor will you find many painters attempting to earn a living painting billboards. I had an uncle who actually did this – he spent a good part of his life travelling around and painting signs for people, and there were many others like him at the first turn of the last century. While billboards are still plentiful and demand remains for artisans of the craft of painting, that particular expression of the craft has been made pretty much obsolete by modern technology.

    Likewise glass blowers: while the craft was once far more widespread, machines have usurped much of the vvalue of that particular craft… just as machines and communications infrastructure are now usurping the value of pressing plants, broadcast facilities, printing presses and overpriced production studios.

    We all must evolve and adapt to the advances of this technological society. One would expect this to be obvious even to three vision impaired mice.

  • http://nowacki.org Dan

    Looks like the link broke. I think this is the proper one:

    http://www.prodigem.com/torrents/torrent_1207.html