BitTorrent and the Long Tail

I'm really not into file sharing. Really! We currently have a 40G music archive and the vast, vast majority of it is legit; I have a closet full of CDs to prove it. The few tracks that are less than legit are more likely to be ripped from a borrowed CD or copied from a friend's hard drive than downloaded from an anonymous peer-to-peer network.

The first time I heard about BitTorrent, it sounded extremely cool. You get pieces of the file from various peers, and make the pieces you've got available to other peers. They call the whole thing a swarm. Until today, I have used it only to download images of Linux Live CDs – perfectly legit.

But even for less legit targets, I'm not sure it's doing me much good, perhaps because my tastes are too obscure? If there's just one peer, in rural Spain, with a 2kb/s throttle, then it's going to take two days to download a 1 hour video? And if nobody wants the seeds I have, am I destined to remain a leech?

This doesn't really seem worthwhile!

I blurred the torrent filename, but for the curious, I've been a Showtime subscriber for the past 6 years, and for now I have no intention of canceling. I guess we subscribed for Queer as Folk, but when that ended the various other original series have kept us hooked: Huff, Sleeper Cell, L Word, Weeds, Penn & Teller Bullshit; and I'm looking forward to The Tudors and This American Life. But the other day, my DVR messed up and missed one episode in an ongoing series. I already pay for the production of these shows, so I firmly believe using an ‘alternative’ distribution channel to access them is legitimate.

©20022015 Christopher League