Illinois Court Slaps BitTorrent User with $1.5M Fine for Uploading Gay Porn Movies

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By Vittorio Hernandez | November 5, 2012 10:59 AM EST

Flava Works, creator of gay pornographic films which feature black and Latino men, has been awarded $1.5 million by a federal court in Illinois due to the damage caused by Kywan Fisher, who uploaded copyrighted gay porn movies using BitTorrent. The penalty is believed to be the biggest awarded in file-sharing cases.

Mr Fisher paid for membership a couple of years ago to Flava Works and downloaded 10 porn flicks to his computer and then uploaded them to BitTorrent. It has been downloaded 3,449 times. He didn't show up to defend himself and the federal judge found him guilty.

What is BitTorrent?

BitTorrent is a protocol that underpins the practice of peer-to peer files sharing and is used for distributing large amounts of data over the Internet. It is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files and have accounted for approximately 43 to 70 per cent of all Internet traffic as of February 2009.

Rather than downloading a file from a single source server, the BitTorrent protocol allows users to join a swarm of hosts to download and upload from each other simultaneously. A user who wants to upload a file first creates a small torrent descriptor file that they distribute by conventional means like web or email. They then make the file itself available through the BitTorrent node acting as a seed. Those with the torrent descriptor file can give it to their own BitTorrent node which acts as peers or leechers, snd then download it by connecting to the seed or other peers.

Licensed Materials

BitTorrent is also being used by individuals and organisations to distribute their own or licensed materials such as:

  • Film, video, and music: BitTorrent has obtained a number of licenses from Hollywood Studios for distributing popular content from their websites.
  • Broadcasters: The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation has experimented with BitTorrent distribution with selected materials which NRK owns all royalties that are published.
  • Software: Blizzard Entertainment uses BitTorrent via proprietary client Blizzard Downloader to distribute content and patches for Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, and World of Warcraft.
  • Education: Florida State University uses BitTorrent to distribute large scientific data sets to its researchers.
  • Others: Facebook and Twitter uses BitTorrent to distribute updates to their servers.

Other similar software like BitTorrent

1.    uTorrent is a free, ad-supported, closed source BitTorrent client owned by BitTorrent, Inc. It is most widely used BitTorrent client outside China. The program was designed to use minimal computer resources while offering functionality comparable to larger BitTorrent clients.

2.    Xunlei is a download manager developed by Thunder Networking Technologies. It is the most commonly used BitTorrent client in the world.

3.    Vuze is a BitTorrent client used to transfer files and is written in JAVA with Azureus Engine being used. Azureus allows users to view, publish and share original DVD and HD quality video content.

4.    BitComet is a cross-protocol BitTorrent, HTTP, FTP client written in C++ for Microsoft Windows with 52 languages available.

Be very careful about copyrighted materials

Although BitTorrent client is used for peer-to-peer file sharing, torrent files do not contain copyrighted content but it makes reference to files that has and may point to trackers to the ones sharing those files.

Copyright infringement or piracy or theft in colloquial term is illegal and anyone caught doing so are subject to liability and sanctions in several countries.

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