Row erupts over file-sharing study

A study that claimed 89% of all BitTorrent files infringe copyright has been disputed by file-sharing experts.

Row erupts over file-sharing study

The report, which was published by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and compiled by academics at the University of Ballarat, claimed copyright infringement was endemic on file-sharing services.

“Through our investigations, we found that 43.3% of BitTorrent torrents are movies, 29.1% are TV shows and 16.5% are music,” the report claimed.

We had to chuckle when we saw two-year-old torrents with more than a million seeders in the report

“Using our sample of trackers we discovered that a total of 117 million current seeds are available across more than one million torrents, based on the number of seeders available for the files. The top two files were being seeded more than one million times each and the third more than 500,000 times.”

“Of the torrents in the top three categories (Movies, Music and TV shows), there were no legal torrents in the sample,” the report added.

However, the renowned file-sharing news site TorrentFreak claims the study is flawed.

TorrentFreak disputes the claim that almost nine out of ten torrents infringe copyright, claiming that the researchers’ methodology was flawed. “The categories are not based on the entire set of torrents, but only on the most-seeded ones, which heavily skews the data,” TorrentFreak writes. “Books and applications generally have a lower seed count than movies and TV shows which means that they are underrepresented in the category overview.”

Similarly, it claims the figure of 117 million seeds is a wild over-estimation because the researchers have failed to take into account false seeds, where the file isn’t as described. “We had to chuckle when we saw two-year-old torrents with more than a million seeders in the report,” TorrentFreak adds. “The real seed count at any given time lies between 10 and 20 million.”

Indeed, the 2008 movie The Incredible Hulk was listed as the most seeded file, with more than a million seeds. “We’re not sure where these numbers originate from but the best seeded torrent at the moment only has 13,739 seeders, that’s 1% of what the study reports,” TorrentFeed claims.

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