We’ve been here before. We know how this story ends as it did previously for both NIN and Radiohead. We remember those experiments too and we remember what was said after that fact.
Let’s be clear: Bit Torrent Bundles is taking advantage of an installed base of 170 million plus users that they obtained for one reason and one reason only–they have a product that they have perfected into the best tool for piracy in history. And understand, this is not just some kid in a dorm room who came up with some software. This is a commercial company that improves and perfects its product and has done so for 13 years. There’s nothing spontaneous about this company that suddenly are shocked, shocked that there is piracy going on with their application. Check out Andrew Keen’s interview with Bit Torrent founder Bram Cohen and Cohen’s unconvincing regurgitation of the Lessig excuses for stealing from artists.
Bit Torrent has been struggling for years to commercialize that installed base whether it’s through selling over 5 billion ads a month in the uTorrent browser or now by a supremely innovative business model–selling downloads. Selling downloads was perfected by iTunes over 10 years ago and selling ads to profit from piracy is as old as Google Adsense. So what’s innovative about Bit Torrent Bundles?
What’s innovative is that having stolen the audience from a vast number of creators, be they artists, film makers, authors, photographers, illustrators, free lancers and others, and from investors in creators, be they record companies, music publishers, book publishers and others, Bit Torrent now wants to sell the distribution channel it stole back to those who are solely responsible for creating it.
This is a form of blackmail, pure and simple. This is why there are unfair business practice laws to protect the public from people like Bit Torrent.
If the artists participating in the Bit Torrent Bundles program are able to overlook Bit Torrent’s history, that is their decision. If they can sleep at night knowing they are profiting from the massive theft of other peoples creations, then bully for them. If they think it’s good logic to compromise themselves for the opportunity to sell to a mailing list of shoplifters, then we’re also looking forward to their solution for 2 plus 2 equals -5. Please show the work.
And most importantly: If these artists think that it’s a good idea to legitimize Bit Torrent without requiring the company to do something about the massive theft they support, then so be it. We get it.
These type of “experiments” generally only work if the artist is someone who has had the benefit of more than a decade of marketing and promotion paid for by a multinational corporation spending millions and millions of dollars. Which is why these artists are also the top tracks being stolen using the Bit Torrent application. If there is logic to this, please let us know. It just looks like the typical Big Tech shakedown.
Why? How much money has Bit-Torrent invested in Radiohead’s career? Zero. But hey, they have distributed hundreds of millions of copies of the bands catalog to consumers without compensating the band a penny. Not one cent. Ev-er. And now they have the brass to charge artists a distribution fee for Bit Torrent Bundles? If Bit Torrent gave the artists the service for free, that would at least make some kind of sense. But as usual, Big Tech just heaps insult on injury on insult.
When BitTorrent takes care of the 99.7% of infringing material they distribute, that will be cause for celebration.