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BitTorrent's Search Filter MIA?
April 4, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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The big news back in November of 2005 was an accord of understanding between BitTorrent, Inc. and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). Bram Cohen, owner of BitTorrent, Inc. and Dan Glickman, CEO and Chairman of the MPAA, reached an agreement where the ground breaking file-sharing firm would filter copyrighted works from its search engine.

Although a minor engine compared to isoHunt, ThePirateBay, MiniNova or TorrentSpy, BitTorrent's agreement with the MPAA was generally perceived as an enormous step forward in bridging the divide between P2P and the entertainment industry. It assured the continued and unabated development of a wildly popular protocol - satisfying the file-sharing populace - while leaving the potential open for possible authorized movie distribution - satisfying the entertainment industry.

As time progressed the supposed filter never came to fruition, at least visually. A search for various forms of entertainment continued to yield torrent results obviously covered by applicable copyright laws. To this day, a search for "Star Wars" or "Sith" reveals an abundant resource of torrents hosted by pro-piracy sites such as ""

This perception is not unique, and was recently discussed on The apparent lack of any kind of filter earned an indictment from the author, questioning whether any attempt to filter copyrighted works is even being attempted. Considering the manifestation of several legal pursuits against various search engines, such as isoHunt and TorrentSpy, logic would suggest filtering copyrighted material would be top priority for a BitTorrent administrator.

So is BitTorrent, Inc. asleep at the wheel when it comes to filtering copyrighted works? Not quite, said BitTorrent spokeswoman Lily Lin. According to BitTorrent, Inc., the company is respectful of copyrighted material and works diligently to remove such protected titles.

"Any copyright holder that believes our search engine links to an unlicensed version of their work can notify us," BitTorrent spokeswoman Lily Lin told "We have a procedure in place which complies with the DMCA, and we follow that to the letter. Since the launch of our search engine, we have responded to every single take-down request sent to us."

This policy appears sound enough for the MPAA, which has not pursued any legal recourse against Interestingly enough, BitTorrent's policy is strikingly similar to isoHunt's copyright policy. From

"We respect copyright, and will filter such P2P links at your request, provided you show proof that you directly represent the owner of copyright for the content in question. P2P links pointing to your identified copyrighted works will be disabled. If you see P2P links to material under your copyright, send us an email with a list of the P2P links in question. For our processing, list the links on separate lines and in plaintext format."

isoHunt's Gary Fung was the recipient of an MPAA lawsuit on February 23, 2006. The MPAA alleges the “Defendants operate websites and computer servers as part of an online computer network known as “BitTorrent.” Defendants do so to enable their users to locate and download infringing copies of Plaintiffs’ valuable copyrighted motion pictures and television shows for free and without authorization.”

The degree of difference between and is astronomical; however their similarities perhaps have been overlooked.

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BitTorrent :: BitTorrent Inc.

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