4 Smart BitTorrent Projects You Should Be Using

When most people think of using BitTorrent, pirating copyrighted files is what generally comes to mind.

You may not be among the half of Internet users who engage in piracy due to concerns about hidden malware or otherwise poisoned torrents, but you may have a friend or two with an impossibly large music collection, new movies before they’re out in theaters, or all the latest episodes of Game of Thrones (but no cable).

The casual Internet user could be forgiven for believing that pirating copyrighted files is the only thing BitTorrent is good for. When it comes down to it, the word “torrent” is inextricably linked with the word “piracy.”

But despite the strong correlation between torrents and piracy, not all torrenting is illegal.

BitTorrent itself is perfectly legal: it’s simply an efficient way to transfer large files over the Internet. By downloading multiple pieces of the file at a time from different sources, the transfer of even very large files can be completed much faster.

BitTorrent is used by several artists, including Counting Crows, to distribute their work for free directly to their fans. This tactic helps them to increase their reach and build their fanbase, selling more tickets for their live shows — which is how they make most of their money anyway, not through music sales. Studies have shown that piracy not only doesn’t affect the music industry, but actually helps musicians sell more.

And the speed and efficiency of the BitTorrent protocol itself lends the technology to a lot of different applications than just file sharing. There’s also Bleep by BitTorrent, an encrypted messaging service that keeps your private communications more secure, and Project Maelstrom, an upcoming browser that harnesses the speed and power of the BitTorrent protocol for a better web browsing experience.

Maybe you’re not comfortable breaking the law or risking your computer by downloading the latest GoT episode, but you can still safely take advantage of the power of BitTorrent by using one of the smart, legal projects below.

Smart BitTorrent Projects

Transcript: 4 (Smart) BitTorrent Projects You Should Be Using Already

The Los Angeles Times calls BitTorrent “the protocol of choice for illegal downloaders across the planet,” but the peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software isn’t illegal itself. In fact, BitTorrent Inc. is responsible for a number of services that are not only legal, but useful.


What Is It?

  • A way for content creators (artists, musicians, writers, etc.) to:
    • Publish their content (songs, movies, films, etc.)
    • Connect directly with their audience
  • A way for fans to:
    • Try content before buying it
    • Get access to fan exclusives

How Does It Work?

  • Publishers release their bundle
  • Fans download the files contained within the bundle which in turn the content can be sampled content for free
  • To unlock the entire work, fans are prompted to either:
    • Enter an email address
    • Pay a set amount
    • Pay what they want

Project Stats:

  • In 2012, 152 million fans downloaded artist campaigns
  • 1 million daily impressions across all BitTorrent sites
  • 60-90% web download conversion rate
  • 10-15% of users click through to artists’ stores/merchandise sites from Bundle.

Potential Benefits:

  • For publishers:
    • Fans can try out their work for free
    • Easier for fans to spread the word about them
    • Convert fans who might otherwise have pirated their work
  • For fans:
    • Explore new content for no monetary investment


What Is It?

  • An encrypted P2P messaging service
  • A way for people to securely communicate with one another

How Does It Work?

  • Users communicate with other users through the app
    • They do so by giving their:
      • Mobile phone number
      • Email address
      • Nothing (Bleep offers Incognito Mode)
    • Uses P2P architecture to send messages directly from one user to another
      • Metadata is not stored on any sort of server or intermediary software
      • Unencrypted metadata shows:
        • Who is chatting with whom
        • When they communicate
        • How many messages they send
    • Distributes encrypted contact information throughout the computers and phones that use the app
      • All message history is stored on the device, and nowhere else

Potential Benefits

  • Secure communication is useful for:
    • Businesses that need to protect trade secrets
    • Journalists communicating with sources
    • Anyone who wants to speak privately with others


What Is It?

  • A P2P synchronization service that doesn’t:
    • Require an account
    • Limit file sizes
    • Throttle download speeds

How Does It Work?

  • Users create a folder and add it to Sync
  • Every time a folder is added to Sync, the program creates keys for it:
    • Read-only keys
    • Read/write keys
  • Users can share these keys to other users or devices
    • These keys can be shared through:
      • Clickable link in email or chat
      • QR code
      • Manually entering the key on another device
    • Devices with Sync folders look for other devices with the same key to the same folder
    • Devices compare files between all connected peers, then updated where needed
    • All files are encrypted while transferred

Project Stats:

  • In less than two weeks, Sync users shared a petabyte of data
    • A petabyte is 1,048,576 gigabytes
  • In August 2014, users had shared over 80 petabytes of data
  • Approximately the same amount of data stored in 2.5 million 32GB iPhones
  • 10 million users have installed Sync

Potential Benefits:

  • Share large files quickly
  • Securely share files
  • Keep files up-to-date across all connected devices


What Is It?

  • A P2P web browser powered by individuals, not centralized servers
  • The project is still being developed. A closed Alpha testing phase for Maelstrom was announced December 10, 2014.

How Does It Work?

  • Normally, web servers send information to users and their computers render that info as a web page in a web browser.
  • Maelstrom will allow websites to be torrented:
    • Rather than being hosted on a central server, sites are hosted by everyone who has recently visited.
    • This means that very popular websites will run more quickly when they have a lot of visitors, instead of more slowly.

Potential Benefits:

  • Reduce stress on web servers
  • Large number of users increase page load speed, instead of lower it
  • Keep the Internet more neutral
  • Reduce censorship

Millions of people use BitTorrent’s peer-to-peer file-sharing services, but many people still haven’t taken advantage of the company’s diverse array of projects. Whether you’re interested in producing or sampling content, securely messaging others, syncing large files, or just browsing the web, you should check out BitTorrent’s services.


  • BitTorrent Users May Be Illegal Downloaders, but They’re Not Killing the Music Industry – latimes.com
  • Is File Sharing or Torrents Illegal or Legal? – computerhope.com
  • Introduction to BitTorrent Bundle – blog.bittorrent.com
  • BitTorrent Announces Bundle, a ‘Gated’ Torrent Aimed at Legitimizing File-Sharing – wired.com
  • What Are BitTorrent Bundles and How Can I Download Thom Yorke’s Album? – theguardian.com
  • You Can Now Try BitTorrent’s Secure Chat App Bleep – theverge.com
  • BitTorrent Bleep’s Serverless, Peer-To-Peer Messaging Enters Public Alpha – pcworld.com
  • BitTorrent’s Encrypted P2P Chat App Bleep Opens To The Public, Adds Mac, Android Clients – techcrunch.com
  • BitTorrent’s Chat Client Unveiled: BitTorrent Bleep Now in Invite Only Pre-Alpha – blog.bittorrent.com
  • BitTorrent Sync – getsync.com
  • BitTorrent Sync, How It Works – getsync.com
  • Introducing BitTorrent Sync 1.4: An Easier Way to Share Large Files – blog.bittorrent.com
  • BitTorrent Sync Crosses One Petabyte Milestone – blog.bittorrent.com
  • How Much Is A Petabyte? – mozy.com
  • BitTorrent Opens Alpha For Maelstrom, Its New, Distributed, Torrent-Based Web Browser – techcrunch.com
  • Project Maelstrom: The Internet We Build Next – blog.bittorrent.com
  • What You Need to Know About ‘Project Maelstrom’ – coinreport.net
  • BitTorrent Wants Your Help Creating a P2P-Powered Web with Project Maelstrom – pcworld.com

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