Four major Hollywood studios have signed agreements to license content on BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer Web site, which until now made its name among users as an easy source of unauthorized movies downloads. The deal, covered here and elsewhere Monday, makes BitTorrent a legitimate site for rental of film and TV titles from Twentieth-Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Brothers and, on a limited basis MGM. While this deal won’t end all P2P pirating on BitTorrent, it will be interesting to see if Culver City, Calif., which has been blocking P2P sites on its municipal wireless system since last year, makes the site available. Although it is not clear if BitTorrent specifically was censored, the city proudly announced that it was blocking all popular P2P sites (of which BitTorrent, which accounts for 1 million illegal downloads a day, surely qualifies) in order to battle piracy and pornography. Others, including myself, said it was a thinly-disguised excuse for dealing with the massive congestion problems free bandwidth, coupled with a self-imposed policy of network neutrality, created for the city officials tasked with managing the wireless network. So now we’ll see. Now that BitTorrent has joined the side of the angels, will its site be unfiltered? Don’t bet on it.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.